Fan Fiction & Commentary


Title: Lin

“Chow time” A girl dressed casually entered the boiling room, all smile.

“Good evening, Lin. You look merry, you must have got good news from Yubaba.” Kamaji handover his old bowl to her, the old men relented as he was affected by her excitement. 

“Yes, permission to transfer, Yubaba said that this is also my task. I’ve never seen her so generous. Thanks for your encouragement, Kamaji. I’m closer to my real identity.”

“It still surprises me that Chihiro could trigger your hidden memories. That’s why you volunteered to work on pig farms.”Kamaji put down his chopsticks, sighed, “Pity that our bitter relationship with the human has shut the border down. Working in the pig farm will be harder than here in Bathhouse, but it seems the only place that you could access human in the Spirited Realm.” Lin frowned, “Their fights are not my business. Don’t worry about me. Even humans are pigs, I’ll try my best to regain my name and memories.”

Kamaji shook her hands. “Remember the boy in your dream, he’ll guide you to find your name.”

Lin nodded, “Goodbye, Kamaji.”

“Goodbye, Lin.”

Waterfall roared as the last sunlight shined on a giant Bathhouse. Three pig farms stood aside in a hill surrounded by colorful gardens. A group of dark shadows lurking nearby, reaching their tiny arms to guests and servants, seeking for something. As Lin approached the entrance, a rough voice echoed the Bathhouse, “Tell them this is a high-class bathhouse, not free accommodation for homeless!” Soon, a giant bird furiously flew away to the sky. 

 “Yes, Yubaba.” Servants greeted. Lin crossed the bridge and looked back for a while. “I’ll miss the gold and roasted newt.” 

The sun began to sink, and mist before the ghost-like town had darkened. Several dark figures were hurrying to cross through streets until three pigs entered their gaze. There, two adult pigs devoured and hit by a restaurant owner. One of them cast a spell. Three pigs quickly fell asleep. The rest, including Lin, swiftly carried them back to the farm.

Unlike the glamorous Bathhouse, the pig house was simply neat and filled with snoring sounds. When Lin swept the floor, new pigs were violently being stripped off. She froze as her throat couldn’t come out a single note. 

“Don’t pity them, freshman. They are just poultry.” said a wolf-liked manager. 

That night, she had a vivid dream: a familiar boy, human, was sitting against a broken trunk, crying. “I shouldn’t have left you, I’m sorry.” Suddenly the scene shifted to a shrine where the boy handover a wooden plaque (Ema) to a brown fox spirit, said he returned where it belongs. Lin opened her eyes with tears cousing down her cheeks. She believed that the strange fox was connected to the boy and the Ema. 

Time flew as more fragile memories were recalled.

A few months later, Lin and everyone went to the hall and saw one of the iron pens was loosened, nothing left except several footsteps toward the garden.

“Another pig escaped.” Grumbling noises filled inside the farm. “Everyone, gear up! Sun’s almost down. Lin,” the manager, commanded before the workers, searching for the freshman.

“Yes, I’m here,” Lin came out from the crowd.

“Put on the black cloak.” She put on her black cloak and covered her head. “I thought we just have to capture them back.” Manager.” He hesitated, answered, “It hides you from shadows.”

“Shadows?” Lin frowned. He avoided her gaze, briefly explained, “They attack living beings by swallowing them alive, some could even read minds to make their pray vulnerable.”

“Including spirit?” Lin pointed at herself, shocked. He looked at her for a while, nodded. 

At night, they traced the footsteps and reached to a misty abandoned harbor. A frighten scream bust out, they saw a little pig was fleeing in terror. Then, intermittent whispers heard in the chilling dark. Workers swiftly hide behind the thorny thicket. Lin looked through overgrown grass and saw a group of giant shadows with many hollow eyes were marching to the edge, where the pig was shivering alone.

“Do something!” Lin turned to the workers, but they retreated. Pig intensely struggled as its head was horribly engulfed into deathly darkness.

 “Hey!” A loud shout stopped shadows. They saw Lin stood up, uncovered her head. Suddenly, a chilling wind floats through among her. Vehement yells nearly breaking her skull. Shadows grew taller and broader upon her until they covered the sky. Lin stepped back thither limping. Shiver like cold blades scraped every bone. She heard many haunting voices, crying.

“How dare you interrupt our feast, spirit in human form!”

“Why do you look like those humans!”

“I’m starving. She looks delicious too, may I eat her?” a childlike voice approached.

“Oh! You want to know your real name.” 

“We don’t have names. How about some newts or gold, those are your favorites right, Lin?”

They gathered in a circle, trumpeting at her.”Eat her, eat her!” Lin shrieked in terror until a giant fox barked and quickly cast the shadows. The harbor gradually returned to placid. Lin opened her eyes and saw a headless girl, as young as Chihiro, floating on the sea. Lin’s shoulders were unstoppably shaking. “There’s nothing you could do.” the manager emotionlessly covered the body with his cloak. As he carried her away, seawater dropped from her pale wobbling feet.

Lin appreciated the fox who shaped into a smaller size. In the dark harbor, she could hear a deep voice came out from its mouth.”Those ghosts were once greatly respected deities until humans destroyed their last sacred land and shrine. They want others to suffer the same pain so they abandoned their titles and use their power to take revenge. But I saw you, you are as kind as he told me.”

The silver moon peeked out from clouds and shined on them, Lin shockingly recognized it was the same brown fox in her dream. 

Back to the dormitory, Lin looked at the old plaque with name “Byakko” beautifully crafted, continued, “Another time, I saw we were playing together under a cherry blossom tree. He showed me an Ema, proudly said,’I made this in a shrine. Happy birthday.’ He called me ‘Byakko’. I teased at him, said that is for wish-making, and it’s supposed to be in the shine. He blushed immediately.”

“When I was a guardian of the shrine, he gave it to me.” said the brown fox.” He apologized and said his family couldn’t feed themselves, so they desperately sold their land, including his friend’s tree. I was touched so I promised him to return this to you. Byakko. Even he’s gone.”

“That explains why I was abandoned. I was scared so I left the Human World and found a new life. But I never want to hate him.” She softly stroked it like consoled their sorrow.

“But not every spirit could, Lin.” Lin read its message, said, “No, I can’t help those fallen deities, they killed a little girl.” 

“They only became aggressive because nobody willing to help them. They aren’t as lucky as you are.” The fox took out a white fox mask, said, “Your name not just defines who you are but also gives the power that nobody has.”

A balmy sun shinned across the sea. Lin crossed the flower field, saw her manager stood before her, crossing his arms. Lin responded in silence.

“We are spirits, no matter how awful we are. So stop caring about those pigs.” he warned.

“No, they aren’t.” Lin lifted her arms like he carried her body that night, he froze. Lin looked at her willowy arms, murmured, “I choose to live like human because of somebody I cared, even I had forgotten him.”

She bent politely and passed by him.

A swarmed of shadows was slowly wandering on the street. They saw Lin and approached, reached their tiny black arms to her, moaned. They seem weaker under the sunlight. Lin reminded her of the boy. She put her hands on theirs. Slightly, a tremor, like a dam emotion, was about to break out, but not from her. More shadows gathered. Lin felt her body was filled with energy, her hands became fury. She took out a mask, asked the crowd, “Would you like me to help you?”

Before the bridge, many saw a pure white fox crossing the bridge toward them. Along with a group of dark spirits was wearing masks painted as fox. The Bathhouse servants grinned widely and fluttered their hand fans. Those masked spirits stepped in a luxury bathtub filled with herbal medicine. They tearfully purified themselves.

Upstairs, a white fox was standing against a scarlet column, with the owner.

“So, you gave them your masks and belongings.” asked the witch at an interesting tone. 

The white fox answered, “I’m not a giver.” The ghosts gradually took down their marks.” I only want to help them.

Down there, shadows became transparent and disappeared in the air, leaving many white masks behind along with shocking servants.

“All right, you win.” The witch snorted and threw her a train ticket. The fox swiftly transformed into a girl who caught it. Lin gave a deep bow before gone.

“You had a great employer, sister.”




By employing themes of identity and interpersonal help, I had slightly changed the genre of original Spirited Away. The tone is darker as I approach the spirits’ negative responses regarding the loss of human harmony as the Spiritual Realm and Human World are tightly connected and affected each other.

My fanfiction of Spirit Away has employed Volger’s (1998) Mythic Structure and character archetypes. Act I established the setting of the pig farm, introducing Lin’s desire, and her hero’s journey, Kamaji’s support and the background information of spirits and humans. Through Lin’s conversation with her elder mentor, Kamaji, raised the central question for individuals: rather they should be involved in the collective conflict or not, which will be answered through the conflict at the beginning of Act III. 

Act II breaks into three parts: encounter enemies of pig farm’s manager and shadows, Lin’s ally, the brown fox and tests from work. It introduces the fallen deities as shadows. the human boy as the “herald” who mentioned in Act I and appears throughout Act II. He significantly reminded Lin of her identity and motivates Lin since his story announced a resolution of the tense relationship between humans and deities. The brown fox is first shown as a shapeshifter as she was a mystery figure in dreams until they met. When Lin was in the supreme ordeal as she questioned her hesitation of saving the girl, the brown fox provides rewards. She becomes a mentor who completes Lin’s identity and guide her to the correct path. Lin, therefore, changes from a selfish girl to a heroine who willing to risk her life to save a human and the dangerous deities, because she learned from her memories that hatred only created more sorrow. She regained her love and care that she failed to recognize in the film.

In Act III, the climax begins with the conflict between Lin and the manager who debate the worthiness of human life. I inserted the conflict to highlight moral complexity and the spiritual clash of perspectives. The central questioned was answered. Resolution despite presents the purification of shadow, it also reveals the trickster in the story, Zeniba. Although she is trickster, she is designed to be positive as she rewards Lin by fulfilling her ultimate wish, a train ticket to leave the Bathhouse. Hayao Miyazaki left a gap of imagination when he illustrated Yubaba left Bathhouse without the mentioned reason. So I added Yubaba’s Zeniba was invited to temporary pretend as her sister. Lin returns with her elixir (memory, name and a better self) which benefits the income of Bathhouse. Her ending is positive and open to be interpreted. 

All Vogler’s archetypes (the heroin, “herald”, mentor, threshold guardian, shapeshifter, shadow, and the trickster) are applied in the fan fiction.  Although some characters share the physical ability of shapeshifting such as Lin, manager and brown fox. However, only the brown fox could presented her change of identity as she was revealed as the key character who unlocks Lin’s dreams. 


Volger, C. (1998)The writer’s journey: mythic structure for writers. (2nd) Studio City: M. Wiese Productions. 

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

The demands for reality shows are exceptionally high among younger streamers as they are dehydrated by old-fashion context and most importantly have more chances to access various internet platforms than the rest of the generations. In recent years, public attention has been largely positive on ordinary celebrities, Dowling, the Guardian,2017) explained that young YouTubers began their business by dismissed the distance between ordinary and celebrity who believed to be unreachable. He stated, “ they started to wonder why our boring lives weren’t being filmed and broadcast, and so we started doing it ourselves, posting pictures of our arms online, like the Kardashians do.” Therefore I belief that Youtubers will be one of the main features in future reality shows since their enormous fanbase would help to establish a sufficient amount of promotion and concerns. The cyberspace is a borderless field that connects people across the globe. The influential status and net worth of internet celebrities motivate and aspire the ordinaries. The closer they feel to the performers the more sense or believe of reality they could get. 

In order to apply a high degree of reality, producers are required to understant streamers’ most desire which motivates their concern on the program and guarantees its ratings. Based on Wiltz and Reiss’s (2004) 16 fundamental human desires which are power, curiosity, independence, statue, romance, social contract, idealism, vengeance, honor,  physical exercise, saving, family order and eating acceptance tranquility, show producers capture the psychological condition and socio-cultural tendency by fulfilling their desire through onscreen performances. In the last decades, audiences in reality television shifted from distance viewers into direct participants. The Bachelor(2002), Keeping up with the Kardashians(2007), Survivor(2000-) to The Masked Singer (2019-), etc. We could trace and make an insight into the socio-cultural tendency through following the patterns of “reality”. Most of the recent reality shows are highly featured in public audience’s live participation, for instance, online or telephone voting. This is a critical characteristic in performing/singing/competitive shows because audiences’ desire a particular bias (to win a certain prize) would directly increase the investment and popularity of the show. “The reality television genre now dominates schedules, combining empathy and observation in a different way.” (Mountfort,2018).Therefore, this technology will thrive for a long while. Although the voting systems were reported to lack of transparency. Yet young audiences still enjoy the collective power of influencing the contestants’ outcome rather than win or lost. This is a phenomenon in Asian countries as fanbases often assemble their group of voters and continuously use different accounts to vote on the program website. 

In conclusion, I hope that reality tv will be more concern with the diverse public interest (not just money and love) and tendencies amongst young communities. If filming technology advances, more professional fields, like the space programs which set outside our earth, will be welcomed to the majority as it’s rare for the public to access outer earth via efforting private spaceships. 

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Wiltz, J. and Reiss, S.(2004)Why People Watch Reality TV. Media Philosophy.vol. 6 (4):363-379. 10.1207/s1532785xmep0604_3

Dowling, T.(2017) We laugh, we cry, we cringe: reality TV turns 20. The Guadian. Retrieved from

Lamb, B.(2016)Cathy Come Off Benefits: A comparative ideological analysis of Cathy Come Home and Benefits Street. Journalism and Discourse studies. Retrieved from 

How would you describe the relationship between cosplayers and photographers?

The collaboration between cosplayer and photography is the most significant foundation of representing animate/Otaku culture in cosplay events transnationally, for example, Wonder Festival (Japan), Comic-Con(The U.S.) and Armageddon(New Zealand) or even school clubs. Although they were born in different era, both performance, social network, business interest, and cultural contexts are inevitably interconnected. This is the aesthetic combination of fantasy and realism that anime fandoms and conventions are highly expected. Cosplayer insists on many preparative elements such as costumes, make-up, and accessories like wig and props based on their target medium. Copying details such as posts, facial emotions and body movements also embodied their loyalty to fictional characters(sometimes more creative than the original context, such as intertextual cross-over). However, live-act performance demands a perpetual seat in cyberspace which it’s considered borderless, in order to expand the interaction and popularity of both presenters and the medium. As photography was normalized and cameras were more accessible in the mid-’50s, cosplay performance was benefited as they were captured and being exposed widely than temporary live-actions. Especially the issues of body image began to come into play (Flatt,2015). Through producing, uploading, sharing and selling photos and home-made videos, cosplay becomes more variable and diverse in borrowing and reinterpretation. Both performers and photographers collaboratively study and invent performances in character via and creative camera technology (cinematography and editing etc.) in pictures.  Langsford (2016) explained that Photoshoot generated a ukiyo, ‘floating place’, where the fantasy places (re)created in cosplay shoot photography.  Mountfort (2018) stated that”The dominant visual genres that evolved out of convention spaces are those of studio-based fashion photography (whether actually taken indoor or out, against physical props or blue-screens) and the snapshot.” It’s because the outcome of photography influentially promotes websites and cosplayers (including their cosplay suppliers) across the globe. Therefore, commercialism brought cosplay and photography as one genre in performance. 

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Flatt, T.F,(2015)Cosplay in the USA. Honors College of Middle Tennessee State University. Retrieved from:

Langsford, C.M, (2016)Floating Worlds: Cosplay photoshoots and creation of imaginary cosmopolitan places. vol 13( 1 )DOI:

Mountfort, P. (2018) Cosphotography as Fan Capital. Retrieved from:

How does Mountfort (2018) argue that the technological doppelganger differs from its Romantic precursors?

Mountfort (2018) stated that “For Herdman this diminution of the ‘Romantic Doppelgänger’ was due to a loss of belief in the supernatural.” Romantic precursors are ideologically based on their supernatural faith and imagination before technology uprose. Since technology approached and changed common society, people turned their faith from the supernatural/ religious imagination to technology, things such as double were interpreted and studied in scientific field, in which people (doubles) and circumstances from popular contexts are designed to be explained, proved and analyzed, experimented, and accepted by the majority onscreen and offscreen.  Mountfort (2018) listed four main ideas of doubles presented the scientific breakthrough in popular culture: quantum, synchronic, synthetic and genetic. Quantum double is based on the setting of multi-universe which characters could able to access similar earth and self. “The technologization of the doppelgänger does not lessen the menace associated with its supernatural, Romantic prototype; Synchronic doubles indicates the time travel devalues even eliminates the individual uniqueness as person can be double and caused horrible consequences in self-clashing and changing the storyline in a different universe; Synthetic double presents the double anxiety when human confront humanoid who copying their masters’ lifestyle and consciousness; Finally, genetic double shows the exploitation of high technology and the commercialization of human lives (started from body tortures), like the others, it also expresses the human desire of surpassing the original self, through genetic technology. In addition, the enormous interest behind these scientific experiments and activities has pushed the engine in technology and business industries, regardless of the concern of human threats. Unlike its Romantic precursors, those “coincidental, pseudo, biological, empathetic and useful doubles” artificially surpass the traditional and contemporary lifestyle, which in the end, they only benefit the destruction of human “old” values and social, cultural and moral foundations. His dystopia universe is never similar to the Marvel, DC and Star Trek multi universes which time travel and doubles are highly celebrated and expected from the general audience. The author concerned the consequences of allowing overexploitation on high technology. Doubles, in reality, are sometimes disturbing because society’s tendency is comparation between themselves and others. Independent (2015) reported a pair of twin strangers resulted in analyzing their double’s physical appearances and seemed not pleased to their differences and never being accepted as friends on their social media. Here, without technological advances, some people still physically reject their “copycat”. In many popular movies, doubles show their power which often transcends their original self or master who used to have full control of the body/representation. Such as Tina from Black Swan(2010), David and Walter from Alien Convenant (2017) or Adelaide from US (2019). Audiences reflect their inner paradox via confronting the intense conflict between two sides of self. Therefore, technology fulfilled our fear of being replaced by a clone, rather they are living form or human android robot. Even from Ancient Egyptian interpretation, doppelgänger only welcomed by the death of the host(Avard,2019). Therefore, Mountfort’s message is to tell readers that high technology should be cautiously applied especially in scientific and national level.


Alderson, M.(2015)Twin Strangers: The website can fin your Doppelganger- But you may not be pleased with your matches. Independent. Retrieved from

Avard, A.(2019) It takes two: Why doppelgänger movies are making a comeback. Games Radar. Retrieved from

Mountfort, P.(2018) Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV.Journal of Science & Popular Culture, vol 1( 1) DOI: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

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

The western three-act structure doesn’t apply or not popularize among Japanese manga and anime industries. As Callavaro (2016) explained “manga and animated series target audience intimately acquainted with their narrative content.” Anime, as an illustration, concentrates on daily life issues that closely relate to human emotions. The audience received emotions that were sketched, voiced and communicated and convey by animators. Miyazaki stated,” Their (characters) emotions will become yours.” Whereas Western cartoon studios like Pixar and Walt Disney trend to concentrate on unrealistic comedy like Madagascar and Toy Story to serve infancy and children. The majority of adolescent Japanese viewers expect an approach to a familiar sense of resonance that features popular culture or tendency amongst the indigenous young community. For example, girls dressed in Lolita style or boys were enthusiastically spirited. Even sometimes they were a marginalized cultural idea, Japanese aesthetics are stereotypically triggering our sentiments and granted such illustrated reality. 

Miyazaki’s cross-cultural tales are universally relevant thus his name has been singled out for decades. Over half of his films were less oriental since they set outside Japan such as rural Europe were also experienced the inevitable arrival of global industrialization. Regardless of the cultural differences, Miyazaki has consistently advocated Earth’s ecosystem and industrial consequences are always the universal responsibility that all human races ought to take. Thus, his films embedded both realism and fantasy. Miyazaki stylized his work despite by featuring powerful girls as a leading character or using 2D and hand drawing techniques frame by frame, his narration constructed the balance of fantasy and reality. In Spirited Away, Chihiro never had a hero journey because Miyazaki depicted her growth through her working experience in the Bathhouse. She was rewarded by her braveness and faith of love. Moreover, the silent train scene was the climax of the film where Miyazaki took the audience away from crowned modernism and returned to the true self. Films also widely inspirited by Shinto religion which spirits (Gods) must be respected but they are not absolute righteous and evil. Miyazaki introduced various kami in his masterpiece, Spirited Away through their entrance to the bathhouse. Spirits like river-god were devastatingly polluted by artificiality thus sought for purifying by bathing; some were evil as well as cruelty. Miyazaki refused stereotypical character design and story ending rather developed layers for characters. “The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it – I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it is rotten.” The director believes that there’s impossible for a monopoly justice practised in the complex society. “The Ghibli monsters seem mostly to derive from some terrifying past, and the magical beings are notable for an air of subtlety and, often, sympathy.”Plus, justice is a term of variety depends on the people living in a community. Therefore the Western convention is inapplicable in this case since there aren’t any absolute villainy against the protagonist. Even technology like the aeroplane wasn’t present as a negative concept of materialization in The Wind Rises. Consequently, Miyazaki advocated messages of anti-war, respect to nature and universal peace.  

Above all, Japanese anime and manga have not been regarded as inferior like cartoon amongst literature and popular culture. Therefore, both media have greatly adopted Japanese cultural performance such as literature, poetry and water painting techniques, even in the early days they were inspired by Western animation such as Walt Disney. Japanese animators had created and evolved their animation that separated from the Western cultural monopoly.

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Scott, A.O. (2005) Where the Wild Things Are: The Miyazaki Menagerie. The New York Times. Retrieved from:

Cavallaro, D. (2006). Introduction. In The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki (pp.5-13). London: McFarland & Company. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/User/Desktop/Cavallaro%202006_Intro%20&%20Chapter%201.pdf

Yrd. Doç. Dr. Sibel ÇEL‹K NORMAN (),Miyazaki and the West: A Comparative Analysis of Narrative Structure in Animated Films for Children. Retrieved from:


Why should we care today?

The series of Tintin in the Congo was written by George Remi (known by Herge), a Belgium author in 1929. According to the article from JBHE Foundation (2007), the Commission for Racial Equality in Britain recommended bookstores to ban this book on a nationwide scale. It is considered that Tintin has been promoted and worse instilled far-right ideology to children globally by vilified black Congo people in dark monkey image in the series of TinTin in the Congo and smeary exaggerated Japanese facial appearances in The Blue Lotus. 

Since readers from early ages haven’t fully developed their ethic standard and even processed judgment, they are relying on accessing external intellection adopted from parents and children books. The racism in TinTin series has exposed the sustainable message of negative prejudice and the propaganda of white supremacy. The impact of imagery cartoons is more direct and influential than dialogues towards the development of ethics and aesthetics in early childhood. As Hunt stated, “Given the comic form and the colonial context, including the ubiquity of blackface rubrics that animalized blacks as near apes, this visual reading is the dominant one.” The inaccurate depiction and idealising white-men burden created early obstacles of cultural acceptance and diversity operated by the engine of globalization in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, the recent upraise of right-wing idea and racial independence have encouraged adults and institutions to cultivate discrimination to their offspring and younger generations against other races which they labelled as “others”. Even Herge had regarded and apologized for contextualizing colonial right-wing idea, yet the series of TinTin Adventures would hardly be disavowed by the global public because of its enormous popularity and influences for many decades. 

Even Herge expressed the disgrace of his colonial imagery and later justified the accusations that it was due to the historical prevailing tendency which Fascism and Western capitalism were the dominating phenomena. Hunt and Mountfort (2012) explained that his “continued commercial success” and political idea as “a chauvinistic vein that played well to its reactionary audience and inevitably recalls the rising tide of nationalism in Europe at a time when the National Socialists were poised to seize control of Germany.” Although the cultural performances in Tintin Adventure have been interpreted by many and questions regarding racism remain, yet this case reminds us about the psychology and social tendency of dominate majority. As an adult, we should intelligently avoid repeating historical grievance under colonization, capable to distinguish the mean of colonial propaganda and responsibility to educate the younger generations that cultural prejudices cannot be escaped and justified. 

The JBHE Foundation (2007), Racism in Children’s Books: Tintin in the Congo. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, (56), 14-14. Retrieved from

Hunt N.R (2002), Images and Empires Visualiry in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa. University of California Press: London. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/User/Videos/Downloads/2002.Tintin_and_the_Interruptions_of_Con.pdf

Mountfort P. (2012) ‘Yellow skin, black hair … Careful, Tintin’: Hergé and Orientalism. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, 1(1), 33-49. doi: 10.1386/ajpc.1.1.33_1

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4. Discuss how Hill’s three characteristics of Cult TV can be applied to a recent TV series Sherlock.

Hills (2004) defined cult TV as it “constructs immensely detailed, often fantastic, narrative worlds which we as viewers can never fully encounter, since much of this detail operates like a onscreen.” Sherlock (2010) created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat had successfully contributed a very detailed and fascinating contemporary criminal cult TV in this decade.

The extraordinary characters or details are not served in highlight rather they were portrayed in daily life. Sherlock applied his ‘magical’ mind-palace to exercise his brilliant detection and to store memories. In fact, fans were already introduced his intellective abilities in the first seasons in order to let them adopted and contextualized the 21st Century Sherlock Holmes by modern background and digital technologies. For example, Afghanistan War, the Science of Deduction blog, the Blog of Dr. John H. Watson, science lab, texting and weather check on mobile phones, CCTV, modern weapons, new institutions, x-ray, blood test, visual effect of floating text etc. Audiences experienced same cases/narrations such as, “A Study in Scarlet”, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem”. Significantly, we followed the daily life of the consulting detective and his assistant because creators had depicted their fight with high intelligent criminals and celebration of friendship through their daily life in 221B Baker Street. We had reduced the distance between well-known genius and ordinary people as we witnessed the normal interactions between Sherlock and the ordinary. Sherlock had impressed and won the global TV phenomenon due to the production such as creative writing, casting, cinematography and various effects. These details had successfully completed the narration form that defined cult TV.

Media had significantly played a role for the promotion and advertisement in order to attract their readers, fan base and worldwide popularity. Despite the productivity of global fandom, cultural advertisements had advanced the promotions of this Emmy awards winner and BBC’s source of income.  For instant, fashion magazines and websites like GQ studied and commented on the stylish costume of 21st Century Holmes and other characters, from coach, hat, shoes and accessories like pin. One of the reasons was due to the cliffhanger in final scene of season two when Holmes was revealed was alive. This encouraged media engaged preoccupation in order to fulfill audiences’ imagination and deductions regarded of his survival and Watsons’ reaction in the upcoming season three. Hills (2004) also highlighted “Spoiler zone” as another feature of media service. It’s specifically a friendly warning for those fans who hadn’t catch up the latest episode, consider them to stop reading the rest of the article. Meanwhile, the competition between BBC Sherlock (2010) and American CBS Elementary (2012) had controversially gain mass attraction for a long time since both modern detective series were originally adopted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and both series premiered within two years. Articles from both countries had been studied their relationships based on contextual and cultural differences and similarities, global success and the reactions from audiences.  Consequently, the fan activities were hugely fed and impacted despite by the TV series but also various secondary tests from online and printing resources which were widely shared.

Stein and Busse (2012) “This version of Sherlock Holmes could not exist without the Holmes fandom.” Especially the relationship between Sherlock and Watson was particularly famous across the fan base around the world. It’s because both writers had purposely questioned the audience regard the existence of their “queer sexuality” through many conversations between different characters and even the protagonists themselves. “Everyone around the two men seems to assume that they are, including Sherlock’s brother, their landlady, and various strangers.”(Stein and Busse, 2012) Romanticized their relationship and other characters had become the contemporary trend. Hill (2017) analysis two types of fannish imagination approaches: the one who “favor the analysis of sociohistorical ‘moments’ of Holmes, where screen adaptations play out the preoccupations, themes, and social/political forces of their era. And there are those who focus on a transhistorical “mode” of reading Holmes, where the character is treated as a real person by “believers” who play the “Grand Game” over time, as a kind of mutated scholarship with cultural legitimacy.” Although arguably these accumulative ancillary (or even commercialized )fan fictions and fan art had ironically misrepresented the original plots but it’s no doubt that such digital communities and global interactions encouraged by the BBC producers have extended the popularity and become a well-known label of fan culture and Cult TV.

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Stein L. E., and Busse K. (2012) Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series. McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers. Retrieved from

Hills, M. (2017). Sherlock “Content” Onscreen: Digital Holmes and the Fannish Imagination. Journal of Popular Film & Television45(2), 68–78.  Retrieved from

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.

How Game of Thrones apply to those 9 defining characteristics of ‘quality TV’ identified by Wilcox and Lavery (2002)? Are there any other characteristics that you could add to their list?

Television series Game of Thrones has applied to those 9 defining characteristics of ‘quality TV’ identified by Wilcox and Lavery (2002). 

Quality pedigree

Game of Thrones(GOT) was characterised by brutality, chaos and adult fantasy. The audience had been witnessed and followed the characters’ personal growth and setting developments for eight seasons since 2011. Author George RR Martin started his writing carer since the 1970s and was nominated for serval Awards. Screenwriters David Benioff and D. B. Weiss had a history of writing popular cinematic and fantasy films.

Quality shows must undergo a noble struggle against profit-mongering networks and non-appreciative audiences.

Book fans were frustrated the overuse of sex and sexual violence to highlight the TV series even the plot doesn’t exist in the original book. New approachers argued that there were too many characters and therefore too many plots and subplots that considered unnecessary. Moreover, their expectation of fantasy was different which related to magical realism. Audiences assumed more magical creatures and often referred to  Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. “The series uses the idea of fantasy in the abstract, with very few specific elements of the genre, leaning more toward magical realism.” Finally, the blizzard ending had caused the ranking of season 8 dropped to 58% scores on Rotten Tomato. Even overall the series has earned the sixth in IMDB Top Rated TV Shows chart. 

Tends to have a large ensemble cast.

GOT was set mainly in Westeros including seven Kingdoms, northern wonderings and different races from the eastern continent, Essos. According to HBO official website, 40 nameable actors and actress were cast in the first seasons and the number had doubled in the rest of the seven seasons. 

Quality TV has a memory.

Engagement of multi-social media in order to create cultural resonance. Global fans of the show and original novels and critics uploaded their reactions and interpretations on social media in each episode. Characters’ names and related scenes were often dominated by the worldwide trend on Twitter. The fan base was powerful and debatable as different values and ideologies that the audience agreed or disagreed clashed and collided through the characters’ performance and growth.

Quality TV creates a new genre by mixing old ones.

Game of thrones involves in many genres such as fantasy, politics, adventure, thriller, action and suspense. Unlike the battle between good versus bad, this medieval fantasy show displayed consistent internal and external progress and conflicts amongst characters. Moral ambitious because it was set in wars amongst houses, power and interests. The show has reidentified the genre of fantasy by depicting realistic conflicts in human nature. 

Quality TV seems to be literary and writer-based.

HBO’s phenomenal TV drama Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin novels, A Song of Ice and Fire. However, even quality TV is writer-based yet HBO writers faced major criticism of lacking creativity and self-direction. Since the author couldn’t catch up on the TV series, under the lack of resources, HBO failed to develop the characters’ arc including emotional development and personal growth.  Screenwriters managed to highlight the climate senses with exaggerating graphic violence, splendid soundtracks, performance and extending setup of atmosphere visually in order to weaken the core defects.  

They applied serval favourable characters to dominate the missions which the audience had nearly no clue to detect. GOT was famous in reasonable twists especially when benevolence and kindness were punished for power. Yet, the ideological and value conflicts between these victims and punishers were comprehensively built up before the brutal outcome arrived ( e.g. red wedding). The poor writing of screenwriters had only served their fans by highlighted their outstanding characters without advancing the narration arc towards the ending.

Quality TV is self-conscious.

 According to the author, A Song of Ice and Fire is heavily inspirited by the 15th Century British War of Roses.

Western politics and public issued society by referencing quotes from GOT. States’ leaders such as President Trump, former presidents Obama and former British PM Cameron GOT reflected power control and intelligence. Netherlands former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans (2013) stated: “Game of Thrones sort of captures the Zeitgeist more than anything else I’ve seen…‘winter is coming.’ in the series means a lot of different things to different people.” GOT portrayed a revolutionary shift in the order of society.

Marques (2019) quoted “Neo-medievalism appears more prone to the creation of new fantasy worlds in which medieval culture is assimilated, although contemporary elements are also included in order to reflect on them.”

The subject matter of quality TV tends towards the controversial.

The intense confrontation between male and female power.

The upraise of feminist power. Queens from different kingdoms respectively replaced their husbands, brothers and sons. They were slaveries of male domination in terms of rape, humiliation, public punishments, and marriage. However, they preceded personal growth and empowerment which lately were portrayed as either radical or stone-cold rulers, in a way controversially shared equality with their male ancestors. Significantly, the moment that two main Queens resulted in became tyrants had triggered the questions criticism regards the quality of female domination. In addition, male domination was simultaneously declining since kings and princes were gradually died out (assassination, tortured, poisoned, sentenced or burn to death) in order to confront the female arrivals. Male protagonist Jon Snow was never be king since he had no motivation, even he was entitled to be the Northern King yet was critically replaced by his sister because of his love interest. These situations reflect the uncertainty and denial of female domination in modern society, from male perspectives.

Quality TV aspires towards realism.

 Western politics and public issued society by referencing quotes from GOT. States’ leaders such as President Trump, former presidents Obama and former British PM Cameron GOT reflected the control of power and intelligence.

Young and Perrin (2018) suggested teaching international relations by using the TV show. It combined realism, liberalism, constructivism and presented different performance of power in geography, time, religions, culture and society, politics via the relations between human in different parties, magical creatures and the universe. In addition, the concern about the potential awareness of modern thinking such as human rights, democracy and the moral recovery in the international system was depicted in different levels and episodes. 

Other characteristics: Creates a thematic film tourism experience. 

Cult TV within this decades have expended their commercialized field to film tourism in order to maximize merchandise the TV series and benefit the host tourism and economy, GOT has brought numerous tourists and investment in Northern Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Scotland and Dubrovnik. “The experiences of a television series elicit emotional attachment and personalized memories with the filming locations.” ( Rimias, Mitev, & Michalko, 2017). Thus, host tourism can be considered as one of the characteristics of modern cult TV.

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Young, L. D., Carranza Ko, Ñ., & Perrin, M. (2018). Using “Game of Thrones” to Teach International Relations. Journal of Political Science Education, 14(3), 360–375. Retrieved from

Marques D.(2019).Power and the Denial of Femininity in Game of Thrones. American Studies, Volume 49, Number 1, Spring 2019, pp. 46-65 (Article). Retrieved from

Rimias, A., Mitev, A., & Michalko, G. (2017). Thematic guided tours to co-create film tourism experiences: The case of the Game of Thrones. Revista Turismo & Desenvolvimento (RT&D) / Journal of Tourism & Development, (27/28), 451–453. Retrieved from

Week 4: Post Horror

Sophie Tse

Torture porn is characterized vulnerability of a group of body and sense by depicting a collective abduction, imprisonment, and torture. The space especially each torture rooms and prisons in a sealed environment built up the claustrophobia for victims.  Approach to understanding the character of a body. Healthy body represents the well-governed society. After the 911 attack, American lost faith on their security and the US government. Grievance, anxiety and anger regard to social injustice and moral corruption caused uprising sentiment of revenge and violence. That proved the physical, psychological and moral loss amongst American people. The later event of Abu Ghraib torture scandal emphasised a cultural paranoia around torture in foreign countries. The film Hostelquestioned the power, status and identity of civilian of arrogant Americans. Korstanje (2014) suggested that “innocent tourists are classified by their importance to the ethnical hierarchy…If United States is presented as the axis of civilization and security, the rest of the world is the opposite. It opens the geography of diversity into only one-sided gaze, the concerns of security” Demonstrating the concept of us and others (non-American people and place) then having American suffered from foreign settings in order to invoked 911 tragedies. “The main function of torture is thus to make the experience tangible.” Bodily exploitation has been a cinematic attraction through using prosthetics, simulated blood and body. Director often used close up on the moment of torture and body part to increase the sense of horror and disgust.

Body torture also represents the collapse of personal identity, social order and reveals sinful flesh. Both movies achieved to physically and psychologically deprived victims’ privileged identity, power, prestige, values, social status and order in order to be true to themselves, which means reveal the sins and crimes the victims committed and had been carried since the past. Aston and Walliss (2013) called it “Reconnecting to the “true” self.” Let individuals turned into merely a human and eventually, a material reality, meat.  Aldana (2014) supported by stating that “The idea that the body can be reduced to meat is tantamount to an enforced disavowal of human rights or civilian entitlement.” This “ritual” purposely helped victims/ sinners to approach their self-reflection and betterment. For example, Jigsaw often announced their crime and sin before his dreadful game began. But more importantly corporeal mortification could never be escaped since sacrifice, pain and trauma must be undergone in order to serve their long deserved punishment (even redemption wasn’t guaranteed). Kellner (2010) stated that “Jigsaw’s approach to his test subjects may be read as metaphor for American war on terror and foreign policy post– 9/ 11 in terms of its “Vengeance-Outside-the-Law morality” of pre-emptive war, racial and ethnic profiling.” Thus, torture became a barbaric and direct sentence and education motivated by the distrust of constitutional law and systems. The transferability of pain and empathy created the echo of the 911 event.

Personally I agree that story narration is no longer a significant role since torture porn values high expectation of the corporeal outcome. The explaining narration is mostly removed for the visceral fluent and maximum effort. Consequentially, it indeed changed the landscape of horror genre but its poor quality proves it’s just an abnormal graphical description to pleasure the younger audience.  

Aston, J., & Walliss, J. (Eds.). (2013). To see the saw movies : Essays on torture porn and post-9/11 horror. Retrieved from

Korstanje, M. E. (2014). Influence of Terrorism in Horror Movies After the Attack to World Trade Centre. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism12(1), 95–101. Retrieved from

Aldana, R. X. (2014). Body gothic : Corporeal transgression in contemporary literature and horror film. Retrieved from

  1. In this lecture, I have briefly outlined how Hereditary contains elements of folk horror, cosmic horror and family drama. Using examples from your own readings and the film, describe how you feel these elements make up the film Hereditary and how it might fit into the larger canon of “prestige horror” from Rosemary’s Baby to today. 

Prestige horror celebrates more than just freak out audience in a sudden. It requires social and cultural engagement of current issues. Hereditary represents the conflict and struggle not just between traditional obedient and the modern independent values, most importantly is the psychosis and the management of stress.  Rosemary’s Baby represents the submissive state of women under the patriarchy in 60’s.  

Both movies used point of view to represent the psychological state, dramatize fear and exaggerate pain of being tortured physically and spiritually. Paranoia is shown along with the decline of morality and the losing of control. Devil worship is seldom or not often shown, in fact both movies captured the gradual change of people in daily life from moral individuals to monstrous human. We witnessed their transformation, family drama, invasion of cult and breakdown of conspiracy through mother’s POV. These procedures paranoise audience as we understand their pain and situation. Director of Hereditary, Ari Aster (2018) answered Riley that “What do you do with the suspicion that you don’t really know the people you’re closest to? What do you do with fear of abandonment? The fear of somebody close to you changing? The film is really feeding on those fears.”  In Hereditary, the different concept shown in advertisement and actual story caused criticism amongst audience. Indeed the death of Charlie was frightening and director had done well on its set up. For example, the devil mark on the telephone pole indicated the terrible manipulation of the cult towards the family. It’s fascinated to witness the gradually collapse of their mental boundaries. Annie had become more stressful and suspicious about Charlie’s spirit. Peter couldn’t escape from his sin and haunted fate since Annie had confessed her attempted miscarriage and hatred to him. Later, her summon of revengeful spirit of Charlie (Paimon), the devil smirk on mirror, a mystery blue light and the death of his father had all been increased his trauma and exposure of his vulnerability.

Hereditary is a horror movie trends to a drama genre. Family drama and horror are simultaneously and intensively developing thorough the narration. In the beginning the background and motivation of Annie were demonstrated in support group: she tried to protect her family from her psychotic mother however she wasn’t deserved compliment due to her increasing mental stress and sub-consciousness of murdering her son Peter, during sleepwalking. Psychological thrill was celebrated and slightly more expected than the supernatural power.

The concepts of demons were occupied in second place in both narrations which represent the outcome of events. In the fragile family of Annie and profoundly rooted inside her mother by joining a secret cult worshiping a devil based on Christian tale (Ars Goetia). Yet, Paimon was only revealed in the climate and immediately dominated the ending. Rosemary met demon in the beginning and the final scene after she gave birth to the son of devil. Annie’s narration or life was resulted in her competence of final mission (brought out Paimon’s identity). Peter took over her perspective and led to the reborn of Paimon. Rosemary was eventually compromised with the devil baby along side with the antagonists. Cosmic horror also related to this folk horror as we saw the mystery blue light in Hereditary and the nightmares that Rosemary had.


Riley. J (2018). ‘Hereditary’ Filmmaker Ari Aster Answers Burning Questions (Spoilers). Retrieved from:

King (2010) describes Horror as being defined through three basic elements. Explain, using references, what these three elements are. Think of a horror story you’ve read/watched/heard that makes use of all three of these elements and show how King’s definition is at play in that narrative.

The three basic elements of horror are the three stages of horror operated in the horror genre, and were placed them from weak to strong level in the following order:

Revulsion, horror and terror.

King (1987) suggested that horror, terror, fear, panic: these are the emotions which drive wedges between us, split us off from the crowd, and make us alone that characters often results in committing act of violence in order to survive.  

Alien (1979) has applicated King’s three elements of horror. There are three types of characters in Alien: human, cyborg (Android Ash and Mother) and xenomorph whose evolution started from facehugger, chestbuster and became fully grown Alien. The three levels of horror, in this film, are depends on the acceptance of horror by the viewers rather than distinguished by the evolution of the xenomorph.  King (1987) suggested that “the level of revulsion. This seems to be where the “chest-buster” from Alien fits. “Director Ridley Scott explained that he used five cameras to film this turning point. The main camera focused centrally on Kane’s white t-shirt and underneath pectoral muscles until a spatter of blood was forcibly busted out. Then the rest of the cameras quickly filmed the crew’s immediate reactions in order to establish the spark fear with by disgusting Kane’s body distortion.  The main camera soon shifted back to a stable close up on baby alien rising smoothly from the host.  The physical reaction developed the first stage of horror.  The chestbuster manifested the genre of horror by the physical appearance of an alien.  

Revulsion can also be seen through cyborg. Ash was a monster characterized both inorganic machine and organic living. Yet his lack of function of reproduction caused him imperfect. Roz Kaveney adds, “We see Ash as a monster; to himself he is a chimera, radically compromised by his appearance of humanity and capacity to pass” The way he choked Ripley with naked female photos shown in the background implied a provocation of sexually impulse and overtone. Thus, his act of sexual violence and body distortion with milky blood were disgustingly presented.

Horror is the second level which contextualise monster by using graphic violence and gore. Although King identified monster which can be sympathised like Frankenstein yet it is the moment to against abnormal outsiders often associated with to man’s death. Horror arrived when Kane, a host gave birth to alien who violently broke through his organs and chests. We see the alien model was a combination of organic and inorganic compound featured post-industrial and metal elements. Although the skeleton (especially its teeth) has created a sense of living in this abnormal variation, its missing eyes (perhaps soul), strong acid blood and blood soakage symbolise the death. Although the scene overlapped the revulsion and horror level, Kane was sputtered and convulsed. Everyone observed his blood and saturates burst out from his chest and a baby xenomorph was finally presented on screen. A bloody round head creature without eyes, nose and ears except sharp teeth with a long wormlike tail. It was definitely an unbelievable nightmare to the crew and viewers who watched the film for the first time.

Terror: the fear of unknown cause victims and audiences are driven by their imagination rather than reason and logic. In this case, human brain have been forcibly digested the abnormal situation and abandoned the knowledge they proud of. Monster was demonstrated off-screen as their presence was positive in a constrictive space or environment. This purposely fulfils viewers’ darkest surmises (King, 2010). The escape of baby alien led to terrorapproach, which is the final stage of horror. Terror is majorly involved with imagination during the wait for dreadful confrontation. Lewinski quoted Dan O’Bannon, writer of Alien, in a website that “The terror comes from the slow times in between those pay-off scenes in which the characters are talking and planning — waiting for something to jump out at them.” This matched King’s basic element of terror as it’s not designed to display death but to provide a gap to imagine the narrative outcome. These scenes mostly shown the gradually build up tension in order to serve the upcoming confrontation between monster and protagonist.  Director had used many wide shots to capture the smoky and gloomy tunnels with characters running through them.  The setting of spaceship and cyborg helped building the tension of terror. Alien could only be seen attacking the crews in the post-industrial styled spaceship, notably the labyrinthine mechanical tunnels and the fully grown alien implied the ubiquitous danger formed by unknown and technology that beyond victim’s control. The tone had changed into gloomy and uncanny atmosphere after the alien baby left the bright kitchen harmlessly. The setting of labyrinthine tunnel and the distribution of disobedient cyborg terrorized the left survivor and audience. Consequently, the spaceship was also portrayed as another monster that designed to put pressure and destruction to the crew.

Sophie Tse


Lewinski J.S. (2008) Horror/ Sci-fi Great O’Bannon Brings the Pain. Retrieved from:

Kaveney, Roz. From Alien to the Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. London: I.B. Tauris, 2005. Retrieved from:

King S.(1987). Danse Macabre. Retrieved from: