Samuel Rendall FanFic

Commentary

 

The structure of my fan fiction follows Volger’s (1998) mythic structure in many ways. I based it on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984), using the world and events from that to tell another story.

 

For the most part my story follows the three act structure that Vogler (1998) suggests underlines all great narrative.

 

In the first act, my main hero (Rald) starts out in his ordinary world, which is being a crewman on an aircraft. This section of the story sets up the setting, some of the characters and the driving narrative (the mission to save the Pejite people). He is called to adventure when his captain asks him to continue their mission after the crash, and while he is reluctant, the captain then orders him (similar to the encouragement provided by the mentor), and then he enters into his special world, in this case the balloon that will then take him towards his goal. 

 

It also encompases a couple of elements of the second act. He encounters an ally in the form of his fellow crew mate, Bathol, and then face a test in the form of an insect attack. This is a speeding up of the action, adding to the urgency of the story and pushing the plot towards some form of conclusion.

 

In terms of Vogler’s “Archetypes”, several of them are present in my story for various reasons. The primary archetype that I used is that of the Hero. Rald is the protagonist of the story, and is at the centre of its events. While he is unwilling to be a hero to some extent (hesitating to complete the mission), he feels duty bound to do what is necessary. He overcomes obstacles (the crash, fighting the insects) and has good intentions, though he is not confident in his own abilities. He is a character that is easy to empathise with, as he has doubts that we can relate to, but also wishes to do what is right and help his people by completing the mission. He also cares for his captain, and is torn between helping him and completing what he is tasked with doing. This empathy makes him a more relatable character.

 

The captain reflects some of the aspects of the mentor figure, as he helps to reassure and guide the hero character through the start of the story. However, there are also elements of the Herald in his character, as he provides motivation, pointing Rald towards his duty, and is almost the exemplar of what he aims to be.

 

Takahata, I. (Producer), & Miyazaki, H. (Director). (1984). Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind [Motion picture]. Japan: Toei Company.

 

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

Wiese Productions.

 

Fan Fiction

 

“They are coming!” The cry from the gunners post on the top of the airship sent fear running through Rald’s gut as he stood guard over the cargo. Already, the thrum of countless wings buzzing in unison could be heard over the roaring of the engines. It would be only a matter of time till the swarm reached them, cutting through the thin metal plating with claw and mandible. Captain Belam, the best ship commander in the Pejite fleet, stood behind the pilots seat, watching the speed indicator as they flew above dust filled plains that surrounded the capital. It would only be a few minutes until they reached the capital, and had to face the guns of the Tolmekian army garrisoned there.

“Keep on course. Gunners! Prepare to engage any insects that get within range, but hold fire until I give the word.” The captain moved back to where Rald and the other guards were protecting the cargo. Capturing an infant Ohmu had been difficult. Escaping the Toxic jungle in one piece had cost them both of their escort ships; and now the hoard of bugs was sweeping across the plains towards the capital. The captain nodded as Rald saluted smartly.

“It won’t be long now, soldier. Soon, we will be free of these damned Tolmekians.”

“Aye sir.” The captain looked up at the doubt in Ralds voice.

“Don’t you believe this will win the war for us?”

“It’s not my place to question orders sir!” A slight smile touched the captains lips at the stoic response, and he was about to respond when the pilot yelled out.

“Incoming fire from Tolmekian defenses!  Everyone brace for-” There was a sudden bang as one of the engines was hit by the volleys from the turrets lining the walls of the capital. Flames sprouted from the damaged mechanisms, and the ship began to tilt heavily towards the left. All the crew were thrown to the ground, but the captain was quick to run for the cockpit of the airship. He shoved the pilot from his seat and took the controls, wrestling to stabilize their flight path. The Ohmu was moaning as the chains embedded in its shell were wrenched about, sending blue blood spilling out across the floor. Its eyes were dull, and its initial struggles against its bonds had weakened. Rald jabbed his spear into its side to quiet it down, and staggered again as the ship took another hit. The captain was still at the controls, and he shouted without looking back. 

“Were heading down! Everyone brace for impact!” The ship began to take a steep dive, sending everyone tumbling. Ralds last view before the crash was the sight of his captain at the helm, pulling hard to flatten out their descent. Then there was a loud crash, and darkness claimed him.

 

When Rald came back around, it was amongst the ruins of the ship, with the flames of burning fuel filling the cramped compartment with thick, oily smoke. Only one of his eyes would open, as the other was sealed with dried blood from a gash on his head, and he picked at it furiously in an attempt to clear it. Staggering to his feat, he glanced about, and saw the mangled remains of the pilot where he had been crushed by falling debris. The cockpit itself was buried in the rubble of whatever building they had ploughed into, and Rald moved to see if the captain was still alive. He found him buried under a pile of loose masonry and twisted metal; only his shoulders and head were not entombed in the ruins. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth, and his gasps sounded like the pumps that drew water from deep beneath the city. His eyes locked onto me as I knelt over him, trapping me in their gaze.

“Rald, there isn’t much time. The Insects will be assaulting the city by now, slaughtering the Tolmekians and driving them from our land.” He grunted as the rubble heaped upon him shifted slightly. “Take the emergency blimp, and get that Ohm to the Valley of the Wind.”

“But sir-” 

“That’s an order soldier!” Rald jumped, and with the automatic reactions of any trained soldier was already moving to release the blimp by the time his brain was caught up with what he was doing. But orders were orders, and with no small sense of reluctance Rald opened the roof of the airship and launched the balloon and basket. He tightened the chains that attached the baby Ohmu to the basket, and began to climb the rope still connecting it to the surface.

“Wait! I’ll come with you.” Rald looked back to see Bathol, another of the guards, stumbling towards the rope. Soon, they were both standing comfortably in the basket as the balloon strained to lift them free. Bathol reached down and cut through the tether keeping them earthbound, and they lurched skyward, almost sending Rald tumbling over the side. As they rose, they cleared some of the smoke, and more of the city became visible. It was slowly being overwhelmed by a tide of chittering bugs. There were only a handful of Tolmekians still firing on the walls, and a number of Ohmu were crashing through the poorer districts of the capital. Bathol was setting their guide wings on a direct course to the Valley of the Wind, when there was a high pitched buzzing that filled the air.

“Incoming!” Rald yelled as a large flying insect shot straight towards them, mandibles clicking together in anticipation. Grabbing onto thee mounted machine gun, he pulled the trigger and filled the air with a wall of lead. Several impact caused bursts of bluish ichor from the bugs carapace, and with a screech it shot past, slamming into the ruins below them. 

“We need to get going!” Rald yelled over the wind as it began to pick up.

“Agreed!” And with that, they caught the rushing air and were off.

 

Week 12: Reality TV

Where do you think the future of reality television shows is heading?  Will new forms of technology for example make an impact?

 

Reality TV dominates many peoples normal TV viewing over their lives. When the latest season of Masterchief or The Block comes out, the numbers of views on any particular channel will increase as the various adherents to the genre jump on board for another ride. However, nobody is interested in watching the same predictable plot and ideas as last time; they want something new and exciting each time that they tune into one of these shows, and so innovation in the production and portrayal of these shows is essential to continue the success of the format. In the case of American Idol, after a number of seasons “TV critics and social media chatter suggested the series had lost its cultural value, suffering from format fatigue.” Hill (2015). Due to its apparent lack of innovation and development as a show, American Idol died after years of dominance, only to be replaced with new talent shows that adapted in ways the original never considered.

There are several ways in which the development of Reality TV could go, such as the use of more interactive features for these shows. An example of this would be the use of live voting to dictate how contestants in reality TV shows behave. Shows like American Idol and The Block make use of audience participation to affect the shows outcome, however it is usual only every once in a while or at critical moments that the audience participation is included, and it often is over longer periods of time (several hours to a whole season for The Block’s Peoples choice award). Integrating the near instant communication afforded by streaming platforms such as Twitch into reality TV can allow them to direct people within the show to do what they want. If its a travel show, you as an audience member can choose where you go, such as being able to “point out the mysterious alley to the host, and they then go back to give you a closer look.” Coby (2019). This encourages the audience to engage with the show in a more intimate and regular basis as it feels like their input is having an appreciable affect on the show and its contents. While many people who vote in a American Idol poll will feel that their vote has little impact on the end result, with an increase in the frequency of the votes needed there will also be a higher chance of a persons vote winning and affecting the shows progression, affirming the feeling that they are actually valued and so encouraging them to continue participation.

Since its inception, Reality TV has “remained on the cusp of developments in media convergence, interactivity, user-generated content, and greater viewer involvement in television.” New York University Press. (2009). The genre is so dependent on its viewers engagement with the people in it, that improving these concepts over time is essential to maintaining dominance on the charts for the genre. As long as the shows continue to innovate and strive, engaging with new techniques and technologies as they do, they will remain the kings of Television.

 

 

 

 

Coby, A. S. (2019, April 22). Future of reality TV where you control stars’ every move is finally here. Retrieved from https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/8886616/reality-tv-interactive-future-twitch/.

Hill, A. (2015). Reality Tv. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

New York University Press. (2009). Reality Tv: remaking television culture. New York.

Week 11: Reality TV

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 TV has become one of the most, if not the most, influential television genres currently on air. The dominance of it in the numbers of viewers it draws, and the wide range of shows that it has produced, means that it has become ingrained into humanity as a favored pastime and something that shapes our societies views and values accordingly. However, the negative views that society has of some of these shows, such as the Jeremy Kyle Show and Benefits Street, has led to many speaking out against the negative impacts these shows have on the individuals involved and the people who watch them.

One of the key draws of Reality TV is how the ‘average Joe’ is now a part of the televised story, allowing for more relatability and enjoyment from something that involves real people; no matter how staged it actually is. “Ordinary people are now welcomed on screen, providing subject matter, “case studies,” points ofidentification, and sources of disobedience and conflict.” Ouellette (2008). It allows the watcher to either have increased sympathy for someone, but also permits them to have their personal biases confirmed through the medium. The shows of this genre aim to get greater emotional responses from their viewership, and don’t care if its good or bad.

The Jeremy Kyle Show was first aired in 2005, and for the mainstay of its content focused on attempting to resolve conflicts between couples, friends and family members in front of an audience, supported by dubious scientific methods. The way it portrayed many of its guests as the cause of all their problems led to concerns about the mental impact on them. The way in which problems such as substance abuse were displayed in the show meant that people were often “held fully responsible and blamed for their substance use, resulting problems, and failure of treatment” Atkinson (2018). This meant that the environment that the show created was one of a blame culture, where those who were in difficult situations were entirely responsible for that situation and therefore there is little to no sympathy from the audience and wider public for these individuals that are often caught up in endless spirals of poverty and discrimination, which is then multiplied by the microscope that the wider public is placing on them. Many people in the wider public had their personal beliefs about ‘certain people’ confirmed by these participants. Shows like this promoted a more judgmental attitude towards those in the lower end of the income scale and those who struggles with addictions, which in turn meant they didn’t receive as much support.

The show Benefits Street was first shown in 2014 and documented the lives of  several residents of a road in Birmingham, all of whom were living on the benefit. The brutal nature of these peoples lives, and particularly the way in which the show documented the repeated crimes that they performed. The show was accused of being ‘poverty porn’, and those involved in its creation were threatened and insulted for their work. However, the biggest impact that the show had was in terms of its ability to spark a conversation on “the future of social security [which] continues to be debated in the
mainstream media” Lamb (2016). It caused a large amount of debate around social issues like the benefit and was even mentioned in the House of Commons, at the center of British parliament.

While both of these show did garner a large amount of hatred from the public, they also created a forum for discussions around certain issues, though they often had a negative impact on those they had participate on the show as they emphasized the negatives far more than the positives to garner more attention.

 

Atkinson, A. M., & Sumnall, H. (2018). Neo-liberal discourse of substance use in the UK reality TV show, The Jeremy Kyle Show. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 1–12. doi: 10.1080/09687637.2018.1498456

Ouellette, L. & Hay, J. Better living through reality TV: television and post-welfare citizenship. (2008). Choice Reviews Online46(03). doi: 10.5860/choice.46-1307

Lamb, B. Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. (2016). Journalism and Discourse Studies, Issue 2.

Week 10: AltHistory/SciFi

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

 

The concept of doubles is one that, in many ways, is a pervasive fear for humans. The idea that there is something or someone who could replace you; take over your life, in most if not all of its aspects, and for there to be the potential for your replacement to not be noticed, has permeated literature, film, TV and gaming. Movies like Us and shows like Star Trek make use of Doppelgangers to create fear or challenge characters with the story, as well as allow us as viewers to engage our beloved character in new and interesting ways.

Star Trek is a strong proponent for the use of Doppelgangers in TV. “An episode in the second season of the original series, entitled “Mirror, Mirror” (1967), first introduced the trope” Hantke, (2014). The way they introduced the idea was through an alternate dimension, which mirrored the real one, and contained all of the beloved characters in a much darker light. In this and all subsequent appearances of characters from this universe, they would display often completely contrary beliefs, morals and values to the characters that the audience is used to. In some episodes, they replace the real characters for nefarious purposes, while in others, dead characters are ‘resurrected’ to force characters into difficult situations. These doubles are similar to the “Quantum doubles” referred to by Mountfort (2018), as their origin is in another parallel universe and so their existence is dependent on fringe science. The reason that they would count as sinister doubles (for the most part) is the way in which, while they appear to be the same as beloved main characters from the show, they often have clashing beliefs that lead them to behave in a way that is almost painful for the audience to watch. They also often replace their original counterparts, and then seek to further their own ends through their new found position.

Us is another text that makes use of doppelgangers to great effect. The text makes use of genetic doubles; clones of the primary characters who are identical in appearance but are evil in their aspect as they try to kill the “real” family as a means of revenge. The films use of doppelgangers is a message to the viewer, “that our shadow selves, our reverse negatives, are not separate entities from ourselves — we are simply our own aggressors.” Wilkinson (2019). The idea is that these clones, who have been living underground for their entire lives, share a soul with their counterparts, and need to kill them to free themselves. This is where the sinister aspect of the film comes in, as they try to kill each other for these esoteric reasons. The idea that they are almost two halves of the same person could mean that they fit into a more supernatural definition of doppelganger.

Both of these texts make excellent use of doppelgangers to create a sinister atmosphere in many cases, where the weirdness of having multiple copies of yourself is compunded by the evil nature of those same copies, even if in the case of Us they are only that way because of your mistakes (the fact that the government created them and then abandoned them.

 

 

 

Hantke, S. (2014). Star Treks Mirror Universe Episodes and US Military Culture through the Eyes of the Other. Science Fiction Studies41(3), 562. doi: 10.5621/sciefictstud.41.3.0562

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Wilkinson, A. (2019, March 20). Us is Jordan Peele’s thrilling, blood-curdling allegory about a self-destructing America. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/3/20/18274105/us-review-jordan-peele-jeremiah-doppelganger.

Week 9: Cosplay

What are some of the major fan convention, when did they begin and how to they differ from each other?

 

Conventions have long been a way for those with more obscure or out-there hobbies or interests could meet each other and engage with each other in various ways. There has been a constant expansion of who these conventions cater for, and a number of them have become major annual events, including Armageddon and San Diego Comic Con.

Comic Con is one of the largest fan conventions in the world, and has been running for  49 years since “the inaugural event, held on 21 March 1970” Sommerlad (2018). It was created by fans for fans, with the intent to provide them with a central gathering place to talk about their fandom’s and interests with others. While initially this only attracted 100 people, it is now an annual event with almost “130,000” Sommerlad (2018) attendees every year. For most of its early life it it had to make do with being held in various hotels around San Diego, until “it moved into the Convention Center in 1990 shortly after the facility opened” Malloy (2008). The primary way in which Comic Con has managed to separate itself from the competition is through the way in which it provides a safe place for those with an interest with often niche fandom’s and interests to explore them among their peers, meeting their favorite stars from these events and purchasing various memorabilia from the shows, comics and books that they love. They are willing to allow almost anyone a place to share their love of something, and because of this it has become one of the largest fan conventions in the world.

Armageddon by comparison is quite small. “Held in Auckland since 1995” Armageddon. (n.d.), the show initially catered more towards those interested in trading cards and collecting miniatures. “Starting off in small community venues” Mountfort (2018), it slowly developed, moving to larger and larger locations as demand increased and the   nature of its content continued to become more inclusive, including various content for cosplayer’s, fans of shows like Star Trek and the Marvel Movies, and video games of various types. Now there are a number of different locations for Armageddon each year, and these allow the expo to reach a wider audience as they do not have to travel long distances to attend.

There are some key differences between these two major fan conventions. The primary difference is in the location of the two conventions. Comic Con, as it says in the the name, is based in San Diego, while Armageddon is an Oceania based convention. Also, while Armageddon has a large fan base, the individual conventions cannot compete with the likes of Comic Con for sheer scale of attendees and wider attention. This is exacerbated by the way in which Comic Con is used to host a variety of exclusive announcements and advertising such as sneak peeks at future video games and shows, and new trailers for upcoming movies from various franchises. Much of the big news in the nerd world is released at Comic Con due to its wide audience and the fact that much of that audience will be the fans of whatever the advertising is about. Armageddon, while it is popular, does attract a smaller fan base, and so doesn’t get the same requests for big announcements that Comic Con does.

 

Armageddon. (n.d.). History – Armageddon Expo. Retrieved from https://www.armageddonexpo.com/General-Info/History/

Malloy, E. (2008, April 18). Charting Comic-Con’s Hulk-like growth. San Diego Source. Retrieved from http://www.sddt.com/

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

Sommerlad, J. (2018, July 18). Comic-Con 2018: How the San Diego pop culture festival became a commercial juggernaut. Independent (UK). Retrieved from  https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/comic-con-2018-san-diego-popularity-cosplay-cult-superhero-movies-marvel-history-a8452236.html

Week 8: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

In what ways is Nausicaä intended as a warning, and what attitudes does it express towards humanity, nature and the future?

 

In the beautifully imagined world of Nausicaä, we discover what on the surface appears to be a fantastical journey of adventure as a young girl strives to save her people from various threats. However, when the film is analysed more closely, it becomes clear that the creators intended it as a warning about the relationship between humanity and nature, and the potential consequences of the abuse of said relationship.

The world the story plays out in is a post-apocalyptic future after the destruction of industrial civilization. The humans of the story struggle to cope with the deadly Toxic Jungle and the insects who protect it. After the humans anger the insects, Nausicaä “has to calm a herd of gigantic insects before
they inflict devastation on what is left of the world.” Napier (2006). Throughout the film there is a display of how humanity is working against the environment for the most part, with combat between insects and humans common and many kingdoms more concerned about power than their own people. Nausicaä  stands in opposition to them in that she tries to live in harmony with the world around her. The only overt display of violence that she commits in the movie is in her “treatment of her fathers assassins” Cavallaro (2006), where she kills them in rage, after which she is horrified by the violence she was capable of, and is nonviolent for the rest of the film. by her very nature she wishes to help others, even the insects that have killed countless humans and threaten her own way of life. She exemplifies the best of humanity; the protector of the environment in the context of the film. in her, the films creators are showing what humanity could be at its best.

As a warning, this film is almost explicit in its meaning. With the constant wars and continuing environmental decay that we face in our own day and age, this story could easily be set in our own future. The destruction that we see in the film, and the struggle for survival that the humans have to go through every day, are a stark reminder of what would happen if the environment that we depend on for our own lives were to collapse so completely. The film holds a sign up to the viewers face and shouts “listen, this could be you!”, but the view of the future that it holds is not entirely bleak, as the possibility that humans could coexist peacefully with nature, working with it to live instead of abusing it without thought is present. When “Nausica realizes that the plants underground purify the air indicating that nature recovers itself even though humans pollute the soil and air” Akimoto (2014), she is able to cultivate a garden in which the plants from the forest can grow free of the toxins that mankind has infected the earth with, showing us that there is a way to move forward with the environment that wont lead to the destruction of either group. The way that she seeks knowledge that can help her people encourages us that we should in turn find solutions for our own problems so that we do not end up in the same place as those in the film.

This film is a contentious effort on the part of the creators to convey the dangers of ignoring the negative impact we are having on the world around us. It shows the future it will bring, filled with danger and desperation as we struggle to survive in the world of our own devising, but also provides us with hope, that we can be better and work with nature to survive on this planet we call home.

 

 

References

Akimoto, D. (2014). Learning peace and coexistence with nature through animation: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, Volume 33, 54-63.

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

Napier, S. (2006). The Anime Director, the Fantasy Girl and the Very Real Tsunami. The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 10, Issue 11. Retrieved from https://apjjf.org/site/make_pdf/3713

Week 7: Tintin

What issues do his albums raise in terms of representation of ‘race’, and particularly ethnic and cultural stereotyping?

 

The Tintin comics crafted by Herge are a lens through which we can observe the racial stereotypes and discrimination that was prevalent at the time of their writing, particularly in the comics Tintin in the Congo and The Blue Lotus. The way in which Herge shows images of non-westerners is very colonial and often racist. However there is clear development over time in his views on other cultures when the comics are looked at as a whole.

The earliest comic of Tintin was Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, which included the first portrayal of a non-European character in the form of the Chinese torturers. These pony tailed, robe wearing monsters intend nothing but harm for Tintin, and played on fears that westerners had about the far east. However, these overtly racist themes that we can find in Tintin were not to be shed as Herge continued, and are most obviously portrayed in Tintin in the Congo. At the time, the Congo was a Belgian colony and so there is a lot of colonial propaganda speaking to how right the Belgians were to take over that land. “Hergé unthinkingly reproduces the dehumanizing racist stereotypes used to
justify Belgian colonialism” (Mountfort, 2012) by showing Tintin in a position of power in his interactions with the heavily caricatured natives, often showing his “superiority” through both his ability to problem solve, and by the way in which the local speak in a broken version of the language. The text shows an open disregard for the natives having any ability to govern themselves, requiring a white man to solve the most simple of disputes, and lecturing them on how they are all Belgians now. While this was the accepted norm for the society of the time, in the eyes of modern society it is overtly racist in phrasing and intent. Later, there was a remodeling of his portrayal of the Africans, though Herge’s “well intentioned portrayal of trapped African pilgrims liberated by Tintin and Haddock was to backfire” (Farr, 2011) as they still required a white savior to free them from the slave ship, and they act subservient to them as well.

The Blue Lotus shows, in some respects, a significant development from the earlier portrayals of other cultures, especially the use of accurate Chinese culture, art and language within it, primarily driven by Herge’s friendship with a young Chinese artist, on whom the character Chang was based.  The attention to detail, the respect that is shown to cultural traditions and beliefs is far removed from the previously crude and offensive examples in Herge’s work. There are still some negative stereotypes shown, particularly in the offensive portrayal of the Japanese characters during the story. However, much of what we see as racist was the views of the time in which Herge lived, and so it can be easy for us to read to much into his work. While some of his work can be said to show personal beliefs as well as societal ones, to Herge “the hidden meaning and allegories that others found in Tintin’s activities” (Thompson, 2011) were of no importance; he was an artist who held his work as a story that he wished to tell, not the societal propaganda many believe it to be.

 

Farr, M. (2011). Tintin: the complete companion. San Francisco, CA: Last Gasp.

Mountfort, P. (2012). Herge and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1, 33-49.

Thompson, H. (2011). Tintin: Hergé and his creation. London: John Murray