FAN FICTION AND DISCUSSION

Fan Fiction: 

A band of silver. 

The night slipped slowly into stillness as the drunks and lovers wandered out the doors of the pub into the night. Riley stepped out from behind the bar and locked the front door. Leaning back against the hardwood she closed her eyes. 

How was bartending such hard work?

Her shoulders ached and her neck moaned at her like a child she had been ignoring. She smelt like drink and sweat and it took an effort to pry her eyes open. Pushing herself off the door she set to work with the cleaning. Each table was wiped down and the chairs swung up and off the floor. The door mats were taken out back and the floor was mopped to a shine. Behind the bar she took inventory, removed the rubbish and wiped down the bar. Finally, when the place looked new but still old, she poured a double shot of whisky and took it to the table by the window. Taking down a chair, she propped her feet up on the sill and gazed out into the night. The Street was empty. A single lamp post cast a pool of light on the pavement, a small circle of dim yellow in a sea of black. Into that darkness she tipped her daily questions and wondered if an answer would surface. 

How did a twenty five year old girl from Dublin end up pouring pints in a pub in London? 

The whisky was sharp and brought clarity to her mind. For a while she sat in peace before deciding it was time to move to her small room upstairs. She stood and as she went to turn away a noise, alien to her ears, a screeching sound that drew in and out like a breath, could faintly be heard out in the night. She pressed herself against the window and watched as some fallen leaves across the road swirled about, and a blue police box slowly materialized across the street, directly underneath the lamp post. Frozen in place, her thoughts, that great swirling noise that had never been silent in all of her twenty five years, finally came to a halt. Minutes must have passed. Still, she did not move. Then, from within the blue box, a hand emerged from a crack in the door and beckoned her across the street. Stepping quickly back to the bar and taking down the cricket bat that hung there she tried to figure out what to do. Perhaps it was the whisky, or perhaps it was that question she had been asking at the window for the last eleven months, but Riley came quickly to a decision. Around her neck hung a ring, a solid silver band, speckled with gold flakes. It was the only thing her father had left her. She placed a hand on her chest and felt  it’s comforting weight against her. Out into the night, cricket bat at the ready, she could her singing from within the phone box. Somehow the singing seemed far away. Suddenly the door to the box was flung open and a man stepped out. He was dressed in a tweed dinner jacket with purple trousers. Tall and thin with a clean shaven face that looked somehow wise and youthful at the same time. He smiled and held up his hands

“Come on, come on!” he shouted from across the street.

 When she didn’t lower the bat he smiled.

“Oh right,” he said “This is all new to you”

The comment caught Riley be surprise. She almost ran back inside and bolted the door.

“Who are you!” She demanded. Curiosity was beginning to flower however. Perhaps because the man looked so harmless.

“What a terrific question, though I suppose the answer is going to take some time.” he replied.

Becoming frustrated with the answers she was being given, Riley marched across the street, shoving the man aside she looked inside the box.

The cricket bat fell to the ground with a wooden rattle. 

Inside the box was light and noise. A vast space that stretched backwards, upwards and downwards. Directly ahead of her was a central console with a rising mast in the middle, decorated with odd symbols. 

“Riley,” the man said softly, “My name is the Doctor and we are old friends. Not from the past but the future. A future I know, but haven’t lived.” 

“What is this!”  She stammered

The Doctor faced her and from his jacket pocket he pulled out a ring. 

A solid silver band, speckled with gold. It was her father’s ring. She quickly felt for her own. It was still hung around her neck.

“Where did you get that?” She asked. 

“I don’t know yet,” the Doctor replied, “That’s why I’m here, I want to find out”

Behind her, the bar waited like a parent. In front of her was an oddly dressed man holding her father’s ring. Scooping up her cricket bat and gripping it tight, she stepped forward into the box..

COMMENTARY: 

Doctorwho is a classic example of cult TV and the reason I have chosen to use this for my FanFiction is the way the show adheres to Volgers narrative structure and the idea of the classic character Archetypes. The Doctor being a classic example of a Doner or Mentor, a wise powerful figure who guides the hero on their journey. (Volger 1988 )Though the Doctor in the show, Doctorwho, is the main character, I often feel the stories about the human characters is more central to the shows themes. For instance, the idea of mortality, love and loss, are themes which the audience can connect strongly to, more so than some others. Therefore in my story the Doctor represents the Doner character archetype. It is him who leads the hero on the Journey. The ring which he carries is a symbol representing his knowledge and power. Riley is our Hero archetype. Though this is only a brief story, hopefully a sense of lost identity can be seen in the narrative. This is a strong motivation for the character, as she is searching for herself. Again the ring, which the Mentor or the Doner character has a copy of, is the only aspect of her identity which she owns. This is what her Journey is about. The rings purpose is therefore to give a sense of lost identity to our hero and a sense of wisdom or information to the Mentor or Doner 

(Volger 1988)

In my fanfiction contribution we see all aspects of ACT ONE of Volgers classic narrative structure. 

-This is where we are introduced to the ordinary world, which in my story is the pub where our Hero works.

– Next is the call to adventure, the arrival of the police box and the beckoning of the hand within. A literal call to adventure. 

-Our hero refuses the call, walking away from the window and looking into herself, finding her motivation to advance to the next stage of the narrative structure

-Then we meet our Mentor/Donor the Doctor and we cross the threshold by stepping into the Tardis and accepting the call to adventure (Volger 1988) 

Therefore we have two of the classic character archetypes who would meet during ACT ONE of the hero’s Journey, the Hero and the Mentor and we establish the Hero’s motivation, lost identity, for her accepting the call to adventure. The story then follows Volgers narrative structure, completing ACT ONE and moving into ACT TWO (Volger 1988)

References

Vogler, C. (1998) The writer’s journey: Mythic structure for writers. Studio City, CA: Michael

   Wiese Productions.

What effects do you think that reality television has on society when programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show are labelled as ‘tabloid trash’ and docu-soaps such as Benefits Street are called ‘poverty porn’?

Reality Television takes real people and real events and creates some form of entertainment out of this reality. Shows such as, the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits street are classic, well known examples of reality TV, however some critics have found other terms to use, such as tabloid trash and docu-soaps. The main concern of this criticism is that these shows are exploitative and that they take the situations of struggling families and people and make entertainment out of their suffering. The term that would be used to then group these shows together, is poverty porn.  Lamb (2016) describes this as a distance between what is being viewed and the audience and the unethical purpose of these kinds of TV shows.  Both the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits street, with their individual critiquing titles could be called examples of poverty porn however, Lorenzo & Blitvich (2013) discuss how Reality Television is difficult to categorize as a genre and instead labels it as a discourse. They mention how the many different styles of RTV such as,  focus on ordinary people, voyeurism, audience participation and stimulation of real life, have different communicative purpose and so each style is in a way a separate genre. Therefore, when we now look at the Jeremy Kyle show and Benefits streets and view how there labeling as poverty porn affects society, we need to consider them as almost separate entities.

The Jeremy Kyle show began in 2005 and for sixteen seasons it was ITV’s most popular show. IT feature host, Jeremy Kyle, who attempts to resolve personal issues between guests who come on the show. The frequent use of a lie detector to prove or disprove innocence is a common tool on the show and is often the clinching moment when a truth is revealed. Often the show checks in with guests to see how they are doing after the show, sometime in the future. Very recently the suicide of a guest of the show is being investigated and ITV is being pressured to pull the show (Doward 2019) Which brings us around to our question, of the effects of these diminutive titles in regards to RTV. Lamb (2016) makes note of the particular ways in which camera, setting and narration are evidence of RTV being considered more than trash TV. The way in which these particular devices are used are to garden sympathy, to tell a wider story and to educate. Using Cathy come home as an example we can begin to see that there is more to the genre or discourse than simple entertainment. But is this true about Jeremy Kyle?  You don’t need to find a peer reviewed journal article to work out what most people consider RTV to be. Low brow, simple entertainment, but Hill (2014) discusses the embedded nature of RTV and breaks down the millions of dollars spent on each show and each season of each show. Jeremy Kyle ran for sixteen seasons before this current controversy. So what does it say about society when its called poverty porn yet obviously consumed in such massive quantity?

Perhaps we start to see a dispassionate audience. Who criticizes the show, but perhaps gains some form of reflection, where they see an us and a them and are happy that they are not the us?

Benefits street was a Channel four documentary series about the lives of the people living on Turner street. A highly controversial show, that some call exploitative and others exposing to the poor lives led by the people on Turner street. Lamb (2016) details that the first season of benefits street was the most successful show on Britain’s channel four.  This then creates the problem in deciding how we determine the societal impact on the titling of these shows as poverty porn. Because they are consumed on such a scale, it must mean that there is an almost guilty pleasure obtained from viewing these shows. According to a Guardian article in July of this year, four million people are trapped in deep poverty. Living well below the breadline. This has been blamed on everything from budget cuts to the growing divide between rich and poor (Butler 2019) Over fifty new RTV shows were launched in March alone this year (Dehnart) We can call these shows poverty porn, especially the ones which film the lives of the impoverished, but perhaps justify our indulgence by saying that what we are doing is bringing awareness to an issue. This is what was used as a justification for the making of Benefits street (Lamb 2016) But the issues, clearly have not gone away and are arguably getting worse. But, we are still watching these shows. 

So what does that say about society? I would argue that there is a clear need by people to view the lives and challenges of others. That the chance to place ourselves above people in society, compare our lives against theirs is unmissable. That is not to say however that there are not examples of RTV that do help people or to even say that the way in which the shows are created, as in the cinematic styles used, is not done without intention. We all watch these shows for a reason. We all also seem to rail against them as exploitative trash. My summary would be that there is a need to watch, that reality Television is a sort of guilty pleasure. As we can see that people critique these shows, however they still clearly watch them.

References 

Lamb, B. (2016). Cathy come off benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse Studies, (2), pp.1-21

Lorenzo-Dus, N., & Blitvich, P. G. (2013). Discourse approaches to the study of reality television. Real Talk: Reality Television and Discourse Analysis in Action, pp.8-41. doi:10.1057/9781137313461.0009

Doward, J (2019) Family of Jeremy Kyle ‘suicide’ guest demand ITV files’ release: Retrieved https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/oct/06/family-of-jeremy-kyle-suicide-guest-demand-itv-files-release

Hill, A (2014) Reality TV and Key ideas in Media Studies: London, England: Taylor& Francis Group

Dehnart, A (n.d) Spring 2019 reality TV schedule and guide. Retrieved October, 31, 2019 from https://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/2019/03/spring-2019-reality-tv-schedule-and-guide/

Butler, P (2019) More than 4m in UK are trapped in deep poverty, study finds:Retrieved https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/29/uk-deep-poverty-study-austerity

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel written by Philip K Dick and published in 1962. The story is concerned with a possible reality in which Germany and Japan are victors in the Second World War and America has become a divide state between the two powers. The story is a landmark work of alternate history fiction and possibly Philip K Dicks most popular work. Interestingly though, the book was written as much by Dick as It was by an ancient Chinese divination text, called the I-Ching. The I-Ching played a crucial role in the stories composition. It dictated the outcome of the characters decisions and even wrote the end of the novel. Furthermore, the I-ching provided a philosophical basis for the work, where the concepts of time and relativity gives the work greater meaning and wider purpose. 

The I-Ching was designed during the Zhou dynasty and gained more popular use by the intellectual elite during the Sung period.The I-Chings purpose is to determine the correct path to take that would follow the Tao. (The Chinese philosophy of Taoism) By the use of coins or traditionally yarrow sticks and the three texts which help translate the 64 hexagrams of the I-ching. With this the user can help determine the correct path or choice to take. (Legge 1963) The Chines Sung dynasty was a time of innovation in science and technology. During which the I-ching was used by the new intellectual elite to help understand the moral place that man existed in and to provide greater clarity between the worlds or heaven and Earth (Smith, Bol, Adler & Wyatt 2014) The first translation to the west was by Richard Wilhelm in 1923, into German and then by Gray Baynes in 1949 into English. Warrick (1980) makes note that, the I-ching is not primarily concerned with telling the future. But to determine the correct path to obtain harmony between men and nature. By the time that Philip K Dick (PKD) came to use the divination text, its widespread use in western culture had made it a popular tool. However, Dick’s use would be far more in-depth and play a crucial role, especially with the conception of the events in The Man in the High Castle (TMITHC)

Mountforts (2016) makes a list of the twelve uses of the I-ching by the main characters in the story and suggest this as evidence of the I-ching playing a much more crucial role than a simple narrative device. The I-Ching weaves the events of the story together in a way which reflects Dicks philosophical concepts of time and relativity. The concept of time that PKD promoted in TMITHC is that of philosopher, Carl Jung, who designed a concept he called synchronicity. The idea of synchronicity is involved with two key concepts, that of meaningful coincidence and un-caused events. Synchronicity is philosophy that challenges the idea that the relationship between events is deeper than simple cause and effect. Carl Jung proposed that events were connected by an emotional level within oneself and at an external level. The concept of meaningful coincidence is that an occurrence that seems to be a coincidence is in fact an event pre-determined by internal and external forces. This directly changes the commonly held belief of causality, where one event follows another (Main 2004) How this then relates to, TMITHC, is how the story is an almost perfect description of this philosophical theory. Interesting enough, Coward (1996) suggests that the I-ching and Taoism play a crucial role in the development of this theory. It was a summer in 1920, in which Jung experiment with the I-ching and came to the conclusion that the coincidences between the outer and inner realms was more than mere chance. Though many people still debate the size of the impact Taoism has on Carl Jung,I think it is interesting to note in terms of this blog, as it feeds into the idea of the philosophical underpinnings of TMITHC. Where you have both Philip K Dick and Carl Jung being influenced by the I-Ching and Taoism, in much the same way as the characters in The Man in the High Castle. There’s a symmetry I feel PKD would appreciate. 

There is a novel in being written within the story called The grasshopper lies heavy, similar to the Man in the High Castle, it is a work of alternate history, however this shows our world, where the Axis powers were defeated by the Allies. It mirrors the creation of TMITHC itself, as this novel was also conceived by the I-Ching. The implication of this being that suddenly we are confronted with an idea of the many universe theory. Where our reality is just one of many. With this concept, the I-ching becomes a sort of guide from which these realities can be imagined and therefore, if they can be imagined, perhaps they exist (Mountfort 2016 )This also adds to the Tao, the philosophy under which TMITHC is written, since Taoism is often related to beliefs in the idea of symmetry between words (Kirkland 2004) Therefore, we can see how the I-Ching gives the novel its structure and also plays a crucial role in displaying the finer points which perhaps PKD was making with the novel. Specifically in displaying his personal philosophical beliefs. 

As a brief extension to the question we are hopefully answering, there is a confrontation of ideals in the novel that I believe is of interest and relevance to the question. Specifically to do with the philosophical concept of the novel and that of eastern philosophy, Taoism, coming into contact with Facism and the resulting collision of these two concepts (Warrick 1980) In one way PKD confronts Taosim by suggesting the existence of evil, which is refuted in Taoism, as evil is simply an opposite to good and evil. Light and darkness. This evil is the atomic bomb, which in TMITHC was created by the Germans and they are willing to use it on Japan and America if need be. Evil now has a name and such a degree of destructive ability that the concept of evil has become more real (Warrick 1980)

I want to conclude with my own thoughts in regards to this final point. Warrick’s point of view about TMITHC and the changing face of evil is interesting but I believe (this simply from my readings of Taoism) is that perhaps that this is Philip K, Dicks new understand of that religion. Again according to my own readings, there is no one definition of Taoism and the Tao is a way of life that promotes a certain way of thinking and perceiving the universe. My own understanding is at the very basic level, so my opinion should only be taken lightly but, if in a sense this philosophical concept can be defined by oneself, then maybe PKD was defining Taoism in his own way? 

References

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287 

Kidder Jr, S.  Bol K, P. Adler A, J. Wyatt J, D (2014) Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching: New Jersey, America, Princeton University Press

Legge, J (1963) The I Ching: Sacred Books of China: The Book of Changes Volume 16 of Sacred books of the East

Main, R (2004) The rupture of time: Synchronicity and Jung’s critique of modern western culture. East Sussex. England: Brunner Routledge

Warrick, P (1980) The Encounter of Taoism and Fascism in Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” (The meeting of Taoism and Fascism in “The High Castle Master” by Philip K. Dick)

Kirkland, R (2004) Taoism: The enduring tradition. Georgia, America: Psychology Press

Harold Coward, H (1996) Taoism and Jung: Synchronicity and the Self: Philosophy East and West, published by, University of Hawai’i Press. Vol. 46, No. 4  


According to Callavaro (2006), what does Miyazaki think about happy endings, and how do manga and anime more generally diverge from Western narrative conventions

Miyazaki’s list of works could basically be titled as, the most famous Anime films to date. With such titles as, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited away and My neighbor Totoro, this is not hard to work out why. I have never been interested in Animated films or television as it simply does not appeal to me but even I have heard of two of those titles and could roughly summarize the plots for you. Miyazaki is the Steven Speliberge of the animated picture. His distinct style differs from traditional western narrative conventions and his films are often an amalgamation of western and eastern influences, that still remain distinctly unique to his own style. 

Callavaro (2006) gives us a basic breakdown of how Miyazaki’s films end. They steer clear of a summary in which all loose ends are tied up and instead, the stories conclude in a more life like manner. Where though the principal conflicts in the story are concluded, there is an implication that there is more to say or do. Not everything has ended completely. This is in fact one of the western conventions which Miyazaki’s films avoid. Western cinema and Western television, to a certain degree, will give its audience a happy ending. We can leave our couches and movie theaters knowing that all is well and everything is back to normal. However, as Miyazaki said himself, the resolution in the film is only one ending, things will happen afterwards. The western three act structure, Act one set up, Act two, development, Act three, conclusion (Mesce 2012) is not popular in Japanese entertainment. Often films are the adaptations of manga, Japanese comics, which have a story ark that has been developed on for years. Therefore the condensed versions of these in Anime form could not faithfully represent the source material by adhering to this Western narrative structure (Callavaro 2006) The themes employed in Miyazaki’s film, that of the ever present threat to the environment, the phantom of war or self development bring a degree of severity to his art.  Even his films which are aimed at a younger audience such as my neighbor Toto, still discusses issues such as death, sickness and growing up. This compared to Western films, that when made for children, are almost always designed as simple entertainment. Any message or theme, plays a secondary role to this idea. The Japanese sub-genre, Shoujo (little female) is another specific style which deviates from western cinema. This is largely down to its specific applicability to Japanese life. Shoujo films are a sort of coming of age story, that showcase the transitional phase become childhood and adulthood. In her article Butler (2011) discussed the complex relationship between the audience of Shoujo and the show itself. This relationship is characterized as unique, due to the typical style of the art, which often depicts young female characters, facing impossible and fantastic challenges, though despite this the style does not cater to a single type of audience. In fact, despite the fact that the characters are female, much of the viewership of Shoujo is male. The reason for this is because of the demanding and stressful work culture, which many young Japanese males find themselves apart of (Callavaro 2006)These films then come to represent a break from that life, a brief escape, into a more playful exploratory world. Miyazaki’s films are also closely linked to Japanese history, specifically their role in World War two as an Axis power and the cause of some of the more vicious and bloody events of the war. Miyazaki’s family enjoyed a privileged war, with his father’s role at the head of a factory and living outside of Tokyo, the war was passed without event. Why this is relevant is the way this guilt is reflected in his films. This is another way in which Miyazki’s films diverge from classical western cinema. With such a strong historical basis, the gravity of the themes of these films is, in comparison to western cinema, much greater. Take for example Star Wars. Arguably one of the greatest movie/movies series in history. Not to reduce its cultural impact, but this film(s) is designed for entertainment, and follows a simple narrative curve (Andrew 1978) Miyazaki’s most famous work to date, Howl’s moving castle, encapsulates all those themes mentioned above. In an interview about the film, Miyazaki discusses the film and its almost organic conception, which I would argue adds a level of depth beyond entertainment. Miyazaki talks about how hes does not write scripts for his movies. He says that he would like that change this but that, that it simply the way he works (Miyazaki 2012) Perhaps this is a reason why his films become so soaked in his own personal history and ideals? without a original design or plan to follow, the natural course of his art takes is to take on these themes?

The large amount of eastern and western influences on Miyazaki’s works lead to the films having a mixed sense of place and origin. Miyazaki himself notes that his love of western writers, such as Tolkien and Asimov were great influences for his art (Callavaro 2006) What we find is that his films would perhaps have a more Western look, though strongly endowed with Eastern mythology or the reverse, an Eastern setting with a theme and story more recognized by Western audiences. This blending then, not only gives his movies a unique look and feel, but separates them from western cinema which often only tries to be that (Napier 2006)

References:


Cavallaro, D. (2006). The anime art of Hayao Miyazaki. London: McFarland & Company

Napier J, S (2006) Matter out of Place: Carnival, Containment, and Cultural Recovery in Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away The Journal of Japanese Studies Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer, 2006), pp. 287-310 (24 pages 

Hayao Miyazaki. (2002). Retrieved from http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/hayao-miyazaki/

Mesce, B (2012) The Myth Of The Three-Act Structure: Retreived from https://www.shorescripts.com/the-myth-of-the-three-act-structure/ 

Butler, S (2011) Shoujo Versus Seinen? Address and Reception: Puella Magi Madoka Magica retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10583-018-9355-9

Andrew, G (1978) Star Wars: A Myth for Our Time: Literature/Film Quarterly; Salisbury Vol. 6, Iss. 4,  (Fall 1978): 314-326.

According to Mountfort (2018), what are the three main genres of cosphotography and what are their dominant features?

No one puts on a costume and doesn’t want to be noticed. The entire purpose of dressing up is to visually represent something and be noticed as that thing that you are representing. In this simple way the connection between photography and cosplay is obvious, as one one would not want their authentic Anime costume, which they spent hours meticulous detailing, to go unnoticed or unappreciated. Due to the rise in popularity of conventions such as comic con and Armageddon the way in which these people, referred to as cosers, are photographed has developed into three distinct genres, which all have a different purpose in the way in which cosplay is promoted. 

In 1939 the first World Con event was held in New York. This event led to key relationship between space and cosplay. This is where the location or a specific place inside a venue is used as a sort of photobooth, where a cosplayer can have their picture taken. Perhaps in a faithful rendition of a popular scene from a show or just to showcase their costume. Two popular photographic genres, the staged competition shoot and the so called, hallway snapshot, were the first specific styles of cos photography which developed at this time (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith, & Geczy 2018) Another important tool, which seems sort of obvious, was the changes in camera technology which helped formulate and shape cosplay today. From the 1950’s black and white 35 mm cameras to today’s smartphones and the internet. The capability of photography has often been a driving force, where new technology has meant more choice in the way someone’s picture is taken. With devices becoming handheld, one does not need to be a professional photographer, or have to set up an elaborate shoot to capture someone’s picture in good detail.  Chafin (2017) talks about the first comic con, which happened in 1970 at the Grant hotel. A three day event held at seedy hotel, a far cry from the multi billion dollar event which happens today. Where cosplay has become one tool which the entertainment industry uses to promote their films, television and comics. The fashion runway shoot, the third style of cos photography, is perhaps a leading tool in this field (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith, & Geczy 2018) 

-Hallway snapshot 

A spontaneous photo taken in a non organized area. The most ubiquitous form of cosphotogrpahy, based around fan expectations. These can be set up by a simple exchange, such as a raised eyebrow or a raising of a camera, to get the consent of the coser. New smartphone technology has allowed regular attendees to cosplay events, to be able to take decent photos and the internet allows for the wide circulation of those pictures on online platforms. The sharing of cosplay photos is a crucial element to the art. Not so much as to add a competitive element but simply as an exaggeration of the initial purpose. To be noticed. One potential use of the hallway snapshot, could be to understand the current trends and styles which are popular at these events. Having the ability to take your own photos at random times, without too much preparation or organization, could result in showcasing a wider display of the current popular characters from both movie, TV, anime and magna (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith, & Geczy 2018) 

Fashion studio shoot

An organized event that strongly resembles a typical runway shoot. Where fashion models don costumes and parade about, allowing professional photographers access. They utilize elements such as fast zooms, catwalks and repetitive shooting.  This is an event more likely appealing to photographers, who see the organized set up as a chance to take quality photographs. Though the fashion shoot can be as much a performance, as it can be a shoot. The fashion shoot is often design for promotion, either of cosers or cosplay events (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith, & Geczy 2018) 

Staged competition shoot 

The privileged shoot amongst cosplay circles at events. This is because the staged shot allows coser’s to showcase the level of labor that went into their particular costume and to demonstrate props. The fashion shoots, while perhaps a more professional event, are not seen as genuine. The models are looked at like clotheshorses, who are simply wearing the costumes. Where as with a staged competition shoot, you have dedicated cosplayers, who could be seen as the genuine article. There are also specific places in which these photos can be taken. Against backdrops which relate to the shows or in places which allow for action shots (Mountfort, Peirson-Smith, & Geczy 2018) 

References 

Chafin, C. (2017, July 19). San Diego Comic-Con: The Untold History. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/san-diego-comic-con-the-untold-history-194401/

Mountfort, P., Peirson-Smith, A., & Geczy, A. (2018). Planet Cosplay: Costume Play, Identity and Global Fandom. Chicago University Press

Jenkins, H (2012) Superpowered Fans: The many worlds of San Diego’s Comic-Con Boom: A Journal of California, Vol. 2 No. 2, Summer 2012; (pp. 22-36) DOI: 10.1525/boom.2012.2.2.22

Figure 1. Hallway snapshot. From “bored panda” by Vaičiulaitytė G, 2018 (https://www.boredpanda.com/best-cosplay-san-diego-comic-con-2018/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic)

Figure 2. Fashion shoot. From “Ikkeibp” by, Cur, 2018 (https://expo.nikkeibp.co.jp/tgs/2018/public/en/event/cosplay.html)

Figure 3. Staged fashion shot. From “Film Jackets” by Film jackets, 2019 (https://www.fjackets.com/categories/Superhero-Costumes/

What is the alleged connection between Hergé’s early comics and propaganda?

Tintin is one of the most widely recognized images in the world. Creator Georges Remi who published under the pen name Hegre, First sent Tintin to Russia in, Tintin in the land of the Soviets, which was published in 1929. With twenty four editions that followed which to date have been published over 200 million times, it can easily be said that Tintin is a worldwide phenomenon. But could the early works could also be considered a form of propaganda? Well, if you look at the early edition and here we will look at Tintin in the land of the Soviets, Tintin in the Congo and The Blue lotus. the alleged connection is not hard to make out. Filled with racist stereotypes and historical reimaginings certainly the works could have been used as such. But I would argue that though the works could be seen as a form of propaganda it was not the intention. 

The definition of propaganda States;

 Propaganda- Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view

Any work must therefore be used for political intention or to sell a point of view for it to be considered propaganda. I understand that this is some what broadening the question but the alleged connection is easy to find. The purpose of these early works is more interesting. 

Tintin in the land of the soviets: first published in 1929

As a simple description of the stories plot, Tintin travels to Russia and exposes the attempt by Commuunist thugs to sell the success of their regime to capitalist investors. Tintin, without too much difficulty thwarts the bad guys and returns to Belgium a hero. 

 Mountfort (2012) makes note that the anti Bolshevik attitudes in western Europe at the time can be read in the stories plot and so we could summarize that the work is this in nature. A form of anti Bolshivik propaganda. The connection being seen literally in the drawings of the Russian characters and the stories simple, anti Soviet storyline.  

There are also some pretty incredibly similar depictions of certain people that have appeared in different cartoons and artworks throughout history. For instance here is a German anti Jewish poster;

And here is a  strip from a Tintin comic

So the connection is fairly obvious.

Frey (2006) discusses Herge’s war record, as a publisher for a rightwing  leader, Léon Degrelle and as a writer for Le Soir, a paper which had been under Nazi control during the Belgium occupation of the second World War. Without analyzing that information to much and simply placing that alongside what we can read in, Tintin and the land of the Soviets, we could see how this particular work could be seen or even used as propaganda.

Though the work is there for entertainment. The racist and prejudice view it presents gives the work a political purpose. Therefore it is propaganda in the sense of its crude depiction of life in Russia in the time. We are not here to analyse Herges politics or perhaps more his personal attitudes which clearly seeped into his work in his depiction of certain people. Herge was clearly aware of the political landscape of his time and this understanding is mentioned in Mountforts article which we will reference again later. Herge also defends himself, dismissing the allegations against him, as simply the work of young man. Innocent because of youth (Mountfort, 2012)


The blue lotus: published in October 1935

In this edition, Tintin is called into action in China and basically stumbles upon Japanese conspirators who lead the false flag operation which leads to the invasion of mainland China,  what we now call the Mukden incident.  Mountfort (2012) mentions that this work, despite its very negative racial depictions of the Japanese, shows a significant shift in Herges depiction of the other. Herge is attempting to, perhaps, atone for some of his early work. But while this may be true, the work can strongly be seen as a work of propaganda due largely to the depiction of a sympathetic Chinese view in regards to the Invasion of China by Japan at the onset of World War two. The works intention is entertainment and as history has shown us, the events described are not make believe but more or less what actually happened. We know this due to the Lytton report, commissioned by the League of Nations in 1931, which determined what happened during the Mukden incident and placed blame at Japan’s feet (Kuhn 1933)

However The depictions of Japanese as slit eyed with large protruding teeth, were similar to the anti Japanese propaganda at the time. While the Chinese characters were drawn much more realistically. This being the change in the depiction of the other, but that change did not reach across to Japan. Which goes to show the certain perspective or opinion which Herge supported. In difference to perhaps his more right wing tendencey which he had shown in the past (Mountfort,2012)

Because of the depiction of real world history and clear siding with a Chinese point of view, The blue lotus is perhaps one of the more clear cut examples, where not only is there a connection to propaganda but an understandable purpose.  



Tintin in the congo: first published 1931

Here Tintin travels to the Congo and becomes involved in the affairs between native tribes. There is treachery, conflict and puzzles which Tintin helps the Congolese solve. 

This edition has been at the heart of much of the controversy surrounding Herge’s early works Due largely to the racial stereotypes of the African characters and the history between Belgium and the Congo. The Congo was colonized by Belgium in the 19 century, what followed was a period of brutal violence that would be better labeled as genocide. Braembussche (2002) talks about the silence in Belgium in regards to this history. How this period is seen much as of mark of shame and has impacted upon the national identity of the nation. That is the severity of what took place. How this relates to Tintin, is that we could see the work as a re-imagining of history, which would add an element of propaganda to work. Then of course there are the depictions of the African characters..

Green, in her essay talks about the harmful depictions of Africans that have appeared in various media throughout history. Often these designs are used as forms of propaganda for various reasons. One of these depictions, the Sambo, a docile, stupid black youth with Ju Ju lips, can be seen in this Tintin comic..

The Shambo was created as a defense for slavery, a way to strip black people of any sense of humanity and make them a joke (Boskin,1986)

This is one of the ways the comic could be used as propaganda, but whether it can or can not, does not mean it was the purpose of the story. As excuses are provided for the depictions of Russians and Russian society in, Tintin and the land of the Soviets, another excuse is made for the depictions of Native Congolese people in, Tintin in the Congo. I think it’s best not to paraphrase here as the intention of this blog is not to attack Herge personally and so to not get off topic or have my work misinterpreted I will leave the words as they are for your own inspection. Mountfort says;

“ it must be acknowledged that extensive censorship by the Belgian state meant that the full genocidal horror of the occupation was less evident in 1930 than it is today” (Mountfort 2012)

However later on, Mountfort credits Herge with;

 “Acute awareness of the political and economic situation in the early 1930s”  (Mountfort 2012)

Now here he is not talking about the Congo and yes politics is different from censorship, but I feel a person of intelligence would not be so easily influenced by clearly biased history?

He had to be one..

I mention this because the work is clearly racist and presents a much more sympathetic view of Belgium in Congo and that the above quotes remove any excuses of Ignorance. An infamous scene where Tintin educates Congolese about mother Belgium was revised in later editions to be a simple math lesson (Mountfort 2012)  The work could be used for a political agenda or even as propaganda, but I would argue that this is not what Herge was trying to do. Yes he was most likely a racist who like to re-imagine history, removing all that nasty slavery and genocide from Belgium text books, but perhaps this is just the whim of a cartoonist and not the mechanics of propaganda machine, set to dehumanize and turn Belgium into a country of racists. I’m not saying the work isn’t harmful, I’m just saying it’s not anything more than harmful.    


References 

Remi, P, G (1929) Tintin in the land of the soviets. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle 

Remi, P, G (1935) The blue lotus. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle

Remi, P, G (1931)  Tintin in the congo. Belgium: Le Vingtième Siècle       

Green, L. (n.d.) Negative Racial Stereotypes and Their Effect on Attitudes Toward African-Americans. Ferris State University. Retrieved August 21st 2019 from https://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/links/essays/vcu.htm

Boskin, J. (1986). Sambo: The rise and demise of an American jester. New York: Oxford University Press 

Mountfort,P. (2012).‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture Volume 1 Number 1. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

 Frey,H ( 2006) Contagious colonial diseases in Hergé’s: The adventures of Tintin. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09639480410001693043

Braembussche, A (2002) The Silence of Belgium: Taboo and Trauma in Belgian Memory. published, Yale University Press

Kuhn k, A (1933) The Lytton Report on the Manchurian Crisis. The American Journal of International Law, Volume  27, page 5. https://www.jstor.org/stable/218978 10.2307/2189786

Jann Guminer (2017) “Us” and “Them” Some observations from Social Psychology (Photograph) retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-teenage-mind/201704/us-and-them

What role does Hills (2004) suggest fans play in the construction of cult TV? How is new media now central to this? Discuss with examples.

Hills (2004)  attempts to define cult TV\in three ways. Firstly through textual analysis, secondly through analysis of secondary texts or inter-texts and lastly through observation of fan based practices. Without over stressing the role which fans play in the creation of a Cult TV show, as According to Hill their role is only as pivotal as his first two definitions, it is this process and the influence of new media which we will look at. Hill (2004) credits fan services with helping through the construction of non industry led groups which are basically groups which are formed without any official reason other than appreciation of that text. These groups then go on to create commentaries, fan fictions, episode guides and production histories which broadens the world of the show. Fans actively use the term Cult to distinguish themselves as an entity set to praise a certain work. Alex Gearins claims to have coined the term in 1983 in a magazine called infinity. finally it is these groups which lead to the creation of a market for props and memorabilia relevant to a certain show. This adds to the Cult like status of a certain work. 

The purpose of media in the creation of these shows is discussed as a specific processes of  development. For instance, the hiring of staff that have worked on shows previously, that are now regarded as Cult TV, Josh Whedon would be an example of this, having worked on such cult shows such as Buff, Firefly and now the Marvel movies. There are also certain particular narrative devices which are common place amongst Cult TV, Wilcox and Lavery (2002) list some, such as narrative puzzles, a strong sense of community and large ensemble casts. In some cases, a repressed romance that drives character development and plot. Look at any of the biggest TV shows of the last decade, Game of Thrones, The Wire, The Big Bang Theory, they all utilize one if not more of these common elements. What this suggests is that the status of Cult is not a grassroots movement driven exclusively by fan service but that these shows are developed with the purpose of them gaining these types of dedicated followings. Perhaps this is a two fold process. Where its inception is both a specific activity at the industry level and then a natural movement by fans at home? However media has changed overtime and these changes are forcing media to play a new role.

 TV time slots would have played a role in the development of cult television in the past. This theory was presented in the book, rewriting the x-files (Reeves,Rodgers &Epstien 1996) The idea was that some shows were aired at prime time hours but failed to gain an audience. It was then after this first airing, when the show had been either cancelled or moved to a different time slot, did the avid fans emerge and create what would be regarded as a cult following. The reverse of this example would be shows placed at non prime times, but managed to gather a large following despite this. This process has now changed and this is largely due to the changes in technology. Television has lost its prominence as the device with which people consume TV. McDonald & Rowsey (2016) Note that internet and streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have overtaken cable networks and have created the era of TV binging. They go on to explain how now these streaming services offer a continuous feed of your favorite show, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in a narrative for hours on end. In a Guardian article, Netflix Co-founder, Marc Randolph, talks about the creation of the streaming service Netflix and its rise to dominance. Netflix began as a DVD hiring service that came into competition against the giants in the industry of the day, blockbuster. Surviving the early years where Netflix struggled to stay afloat, the company would eventually out last its competitors. There is now only one Blockbuster left. Once this had happened and the internet had grown into a useful tool, the service switched from a DVD hiring service to the platform we know today (Levin 2019)

Though the history is still relevant. Just because the technology has changed does not mean that the more crucial elements of the formation of cult TV have. Hill (2004) touches on this when he talks about the internet. It is worth mentioning that his version of the internet was still rather limited, however what he says is that Cult TV, at its heart will only be developed by avid fans who religiously worship a show. Without the in depth knowledge gained from this obsession, one can not be regarded as an avid fan. New media has made TV more accessible, but it has not changed this important rule.  

What Hill summarizes is that Cult Tv can not simply be the product of one definition. Cult television is developed by an industry to be just that, however fan services are also a massive component of creating a cult status. In a sense, it is the audience which carries the show onwards. From its conception as a possible cult show, the fans are the ones who cement this definition with their dedicated practices and devotion to the text. Seen in fan fictions and online discussions. 

References

Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences, in R. C. Allen & A. Hill (eds) The Television Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge

Jimme L. Reeves, Mark C. Rodgers, and Epstein, (1996) Rewriting Popularity: The Cult Files

 McDonald, K. Smith,Rowsey, D (2016) The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century. Bloomsbury Publishing USA

levin, S (2019) Netflix co-founder: ‘Blockbuster laughed at us Now there’s one left: retrieved from; https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/14/netflix-marc-randolph-founder-blockbusterlevin, S (2019)

Wilcox, R. & Lavery, D. (2002) Introduction, in R. Wilcox & D. Lavery (eds) Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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